Chicago: The Musical | The Fabulous Fox Theatre

Michelle DeJean sizzled and popped in every scene in which she appeared, which allowed her to steal the entire production.

 

Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander | Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Directed by Walter Bobbie

The Fabulous Fox Theatre welcomed back Kander & Ebb's legendary Chicago: The Musical to its stage once again. The show is a classic tale of deception, sex, and—best of all—murder. Set in Chicago during the late ‘20s, the story follows Roxie Hart (Michelle DeJean) who murders her lover with but gets her husband to claim he did the killing. As fate would have it, a notable dancer, Velma Kelly (Terra C. MacLeod), is also under suspicion of murder as her man—and sister—have turned up dead as well. Both bombshells fight for the attention of the press as well as the attention of a local high-profile lawyer named Billy Flynn (Tom Wopat). The rest of the story follows the two killer dames as they try to beat the rap for their supposed crimes.

Chicago: The Musical is not your typical musical, seeing how the "story" unfolds mainly through the stellar songs in the production rather than with elaborate sets and colorful costumes. Each song is brilliantly written and meshes extremely well as a body of work. The actors are tasked with not just singing the songs, but emoting nearly every word. That said, MacLeod left me cold with her performance as Velma. It's not that she overacted the role; it's just that her performance was more drag than acting. Normally that kind of over-emoting would go unnoticed, but when she was paired up against DeJean in the role of Roxie, MacLeod paled on stage. DeJean sizzled and popped in every scene in which she appeared, which allowed her to steal the entire production. DeJean is a star with a capital "S" and was very impressive with her performance. When the two appeared together, DeJean out sang, out danced, and out acted MacLeod every time.

Wopat was average, at best, in the role of Billy Flynn. He looked the part, but his vocals fell flat in each of his big numbers. While I adored Wopat as Luke Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, I didn't care for him  in this role. He came off robotic, disingenuous, and quite frankly, boring. Two actors that I did care for were Carol Woods as Matron "Mama" Morton" and R. Bean as Mary Sunshine. That really is no surprise as both roles are designed to stand out in the production. Woods nailed the role of "Mama" by giving her performance an overdose of attitude and sparkle. The talented actress showed her ability to bellow with "When You're Good to Mama" and showcased her sensitive side with the ballad, "Class." Once again, R. Bean nailed down the role of Mary Sunshine with her own version of camp. I loved her the last time I saw her in 2004, and I loved her again in 2007.

While the performances were hit and miss, the choreography of the show was sensational. For a show that relies heavily on dancing, the dancers succeeded by delivering sexy, sensual movements. Spicy is my word du jour in describing the dance sequences. Standout numbers included "Cell Block Tango," "Razzle Dazzle," and the crowd favorite, "We Both Reached for the Gun."

Despite not caring for a couple of lead roles, the show did work in a general sense. The weight of the show is on the back of the songs and the dancing and both of those aspects were outstanding. DeJean may have stolen the show, but thankfully, Chicago: The Musical is—at heart—an ensemble piece. | Jim Campbell

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