Broadway Across America Series at Murat Theatre, Nov. 20-22
Directed by Scott Faris, recreating Walter Bobbie's New York production
Bob Fosse's 1970's choreographic style of rolling shoulders and bucking pelvises seems almost passé today, even with his signature tight black costumes cut up to here and down to there. Still, the unrestrained writhing will always fit Chicago
, the tawdry story of two murderesses turned into celebrities by the Chicago press. Roxie the ingénue and Velma the vixen take turns in the spotlight, as if on the seediest of vaudeville tours, with their jail keeper Mama Morton (Carol Woods), crooning lawyer Billy Flynn (Tom Wopat), and a circus of contortionist dancers. While Fosse's reputation helped carry Chicago
into a record-breaking revival (choreographed by Ann Reinking) and an Oscar-winning film, this production reminds me that the dancing has a strong partner in music. Composers John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret
) imitate twenties music with sentimental, funny, and racy songs ("When You're Good to Mama," "Razzle Dazzle," "Nowadays") that artfully define the play's mix of sleazy and forlorn characters. The excellent cast is lead by Terra C. MacLeod, whose voice brings a hint of Eartha Kitt to Velma, and Bianca Marroquin, who proves that Roxie, despite being a killer and an opportunist, is also something of an innocent. As the chubby, cuckolded husband of "Mister Cellophane," Tom Riis Farrell provides a welcome antidote to fame, fishnet, and hard bodies.