How in the round world can you review a modern classic of a musical like Chicago, which has been done (literally) to death? Well, let’s start by comparing it to another musical that CenterStage will perform later on in its 2014-15 season.
Sweeney Todd dispatches its victims with a barber’s slash in Old World European-style. Chicago gets rid of half of the male population in 1920’s Chicago in New World-style with a wink and a leer because “they had it coming” and, after all, like it says on the front of the Playbill, “sin is in.”
Chicago is unrepentantly cynical and most of the characters have a carnival barker’s mentality: “never give a sucker an even break” as personified by noted Chicago lawyer Billy Flynn and played with verve by Pete Lay, especially when he and the ensemble sing “Razzle Dazzle.” Roxie Hart, played by Kate E. Reedy and Velma Kelly, played by Whitney Trowbridge give ‘em the same as two “victims” who killed their male partners in “self defense” and become the darlings of Chicago until the next big thing comes along.
These three strong characters carry Chicago to its inevitable conclusion of “not guilty,” but others share the load along the way, especially Jason Cooper who plays “Cellophane Man” Amos Hart, Roxie’s patsy of a husband; Tamika McDonald, who plays Matron Mama Morton and, above all, “Maggie Armadale” who plays the glorious Merry Sunshine and steals the show.
All in all, this makes for an entertaining evening of sin by proxy (as well as Roxy, not to mention Velma) and “All that Jazz.”
There’s still time to catch Chicago, which runs through September 20, but you better hurry – several performances are already sold out. Purchase your tickets at www.CenterStageJCC.org or calling 502-459-0669.
Chicago is presented by Hillyard Lyons.
Next up for CenterStage this season, J Michael’s Spa & Salon presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, October 23-November 9.