Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Music by John Kander
Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Currently playing at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre (New York City)
Tickets: (212) 239-6200/(800) 432-7250
SEX, MURDER & THE MEDIA
By Ed Farolan
When you combine sex, murder and the media, you have Chicago. But it's not Al Capone's Chicago of the 30s; in this musical, it's Chicago of the 20s. Plus an added twist: the start of women's liberation.
As I was watching this play, a thought just kept on going through my mind: I got the impression from the storyline of this show that Chicago was the forerunner of women's liberation. In this story, women murder their husbands for infidelity; they go to jail; and sometimes, as in this musical, they become jailbird celebrities because of the media.
And this is what Chicago: the Musical is all about. It tells the story of women jailed for murdering their husbands, and it focuses on two women Velma Kelly (Jasmine Guy) and Roxie Hart (Charlotte d'Amboise) who are jailed, one for murdering her husband, and the latter, for murdering her lover.
Their lawyer, Billy Flynn (Clarke Peters), gets the media to publicize their stories in the hope of getting sympathy from the public. Which he does successfully.
And at the end, the two "ladies" or should I say "broads", who, in their entire lives had been wishing and dreaming to be entertainers, finally get to become a duet in vaudeville.
It's a simple tale but executed in dance and song by a cast of excellent professionals. No wonder Broadway is what they say it is. The high calibre of these performers who act naturally, dance with precision, and sing to raise our spirits. That is entertainment to the nth degree.
One flaw, though, I noticed in this production was the mention of Ike (referring to Eisenhower); and also when Roxie says she was born in 1930. Whether I misheard or not, and if I didn't, why would a play set in the 20s have this dialogue?
All in all, this musical is the mettle of modern broadway hits. Costumes in black, orchestra no longer in the pit but at centerstage, and players standing by on stage rather than offstage. All contemporary in approach.
I truly enjoyed the show; so did the audience in a full-house, at this beautiful, classic theatre that's been the home for long running hits like Chorus Line, A Little Night Music, and many others.