“Chicago” Shimmies Into Town
Jason Madanjian ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
As if Hurricane Sandy did not make Boston the windy city already, Chicago blows into town at the Wang Theatre for a four day engagement.
And it turns out the Wang Theatre is a perfect home for this musical about lust, love and lies as it was built in the same time period that Chicago takes place: the sensationalist journalism lovin’, big band swingin’ 1930s.
Chicago follows Roxie Hart, a fame-obsessed nobody who murders one of her many illicit affairs. But tragedy turns to triumph when Roxie, using sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn and prison caretaker Matron “Mama” Morton to catapult her into the headlines and hearts of the city.
As Roxie, iconic model and actress Christie Brinkley perfectly channels the character’s doe-eyed innocence mixed with inner-diva greediness. Think Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
Television personality John O’Hurley is cool as a cucumber as inhibiting slimy lawyer Billy Flynn. O’Hurley’s performance utilizes two of his greatest strengths: his incorruptible stamina, as displayed on Dancing with the Stars and as Family Feud host; and perfect comedic timing, like his aloof Seinfeld character J. Peterman. That charm carries him through numbers like “All I Care About” and “Razzle Dazzle”. Surely, O’Hurley, with a surprising stellar voice, was born for this role.
Less assured is Amra-Faye Wright as Roxie’s fame rival turned partner in crime Velma Kelly. Although Wright has a beyond beautiful voice, her take on “All That Jazz” as a shining example, she leaves something to be desired in the acting category. It’s a little too screwball and scenery chewing for such an evil and nuanced character.
In fact, nuance may be the one thing this production truly lacks, which is understandable. Most travelling Broadway shows must have the spontaneity and deepness beaten out of them early on the road. But it is apparent that Brinkley sleepwalks through more than one scene.
But 90% of the time, this production is firing on all cylinders. One thing prominent in Rob Marshall’s Oscar winning film adaptation that is thankfully kept is the kinetic energy of the musical. Numbers like “Cell Block Tango” and “We Both Reached For The Gun” reach dizzying heights of boundless Broadway fun. And the orchestra, disguised on the main stage as a “big band” from the era, provides a rollicking good time for the audience. It’s genuine sounding whilst beautifully played and perfectly transports the audience to another time.
Naturally, Chicago comes highly recommended. The humor is still as black as the costumes. The choreography as vibrant and astounding as ever. And the songs amazingly timeless and forever catchy.
Still, all of that never buries the true heart of Chicago: its exploration into the power of fame. Plus, this latest production, so fresh with energy, makes one wonder: has Chicago’s biting satire on celebrity culture ever been more prevalent than now, in an age of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton “famous for being famous” status?
Because even though Roxie and Velma finally think they have made it, finally broken into the industry they have so desperately wanted to become a part of, the audience knows (and perhaps deep-down they do too) that their fifteen minutes will not last forever.
After all: that’s Chicago, kid.
Upcoming Show Dates at The Wang Theatre:
Nov. 2 at 8pm
Nov. 3 at 2pm and 8pm
Nov. 4 at 1pm and 6:30pm
For more information on pricing and showtimes please visit: http://www.citicenter.org/chicago/