BWW Reviews: CHICAGO and All That Jazz at Music Circus
Closing the summer season with its first production of the Kander and Ebb classic, "Chicago," Music Circus gives Sacramento the "old razzle dazzle them" this week at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.
The production features Fosse's well-known jazz hands, which influenced so much of musical theatre, and it glitters under Randy Slovacek's choreography and David Neville's dramatic lighting. A flexible cast shows off its muscles with amazing flips and twists of the body, while the story unfolds in vaudeville-style, complete with sensual black costumes designed by Mark Koss.
Brenda Braxton is a fiery Velma Kelly, a singer and dancer sent to jail for murdering her sister and husband. An adorable and excited Lindsay Roginski plays dreamer Roxie Hart, who uses the publicity from her trial to boost her chances at fame on the stage. Mama Morton (sung with true power by Roz Ryan) oversees the two and the rest of the "Cell Block Tango" women who are in jail for murder, all desperate for defense by top lawyer Billy Flynn (the smooth Tom Hewitt). Meanwhile, Roxie's poor husband (an adorably gullible Ric Stoneback) finds himself thrown about for the sake of his wife's case; that is, when everyone is not walking straight past him or bumbling over his name. C. Newcomber also deserves accolades for a fantastic operatic performance and a hilarious turn in the second act.
California Musical Theatre's version includes all the original songs, a treat for those who have only seen the movie. The entire ensemble exhibits a wonderful energy, but the production lacks a certain playfulness that has kept the show on Broadway all these years. The orchestra barely interacts with the cast, although conductor Darren Ledbetter receives the spotlight a few times throughout the show, and the orchestra has a great time with Kander's fun, jazzy score, and some of the solo moments of the show lack a big-time feel in the leads' limited movements. Although leads have lovely voices on their own, they have trouble blending in duets.
Director Ron Kellum makes frequent use of Music Circus' rotating stage, though, which helps add to the spectacle of the show. Audiences get giant feathers, sparkling confetti, dramatic entrances and all that jazz.