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BWW Review: CHICAGO at Park Playhouse

Katy Corbus (Roxie Hart) and Madeleine Corliss (Velma Kelly)

Park Playhouse's production of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago brings a slick, sultry, and sensual vibe to Washington Park, seducing its way through each member of the audience. The show, now known as the longest running American musical in Broadway history, is ruthless, dark, and heartless, though that may not be a great thing.

A Bob Fosse classic, Chicago tells the story of two murderous women whose thirst for fame triumphs their care for justice. Katy Corbus as Roxie Hart plays up her vulnerable and sweet appeal, perhaps too much so. Her voice, however, fills the outdoor amphitheater nicely. Alongside her is Madeleine Corliss as Velma Kelly who certainly flares up the stage, particularly in the opening and famed number, "All That Jazz."

Directed by Michael LoPorto, the cast of nineteen is no doubt a talented bunch. Rice Roemer plays Billy Flynn whose suave nature and beautiful voice present some great moments throughout the almost two and a half hour production. Billy Goldstein as Amos Hart, Roxie's desperate and ignored husband, delivers the most, and possible only, truly emotional number, "Mr. Cellophane," in which he pleads for the attention of anyone who will notice him. And of course, K.W. Marshall as Mary Sunshine provides some of the most comedic moments of the show.

The musical's ensemble is made up of a group of fantastic dancers. Some stood out amongst the rest, including Ryan P. Cyr, whose theatricality and stage presence shines brightly in the big numbers, and Gabriella Tooma, whose stunning physique and marvelous dance skills (including an impressive tilt in "Cell Block Tango") are beautiful. The dancers fully embody Fosse, with choreography by Ashley-Simone Kirchner, though I wish they had been given more moments to flaunt their talents.

Above all is Molly Rose McGrath as Matron Mama Morton, who steals the show with "When You're Good To Mama." It's everything I expected, and, having seen McGrath in local productions previously, I have come to the conclusion that she can do no wrong.

It's sexy, it's flashy and it's beautifully put together, but it misses the mark. The fault lays not with this particular production, but with the show itself. It's hard to connect with the characters, but perhaps rightly so as they are presented as greedy, fame hungry Vaudeville celebrities.

The scenic design by William Davis is stunning along with the eye popping costumes by The Costumer. If anything, go to see this production for McGrath and the wonderful ensemble numbers. It truly is an entertaining night of theatre, whether or not there lies a message within its book.

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From This Author - Gianluca Russo