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BWW Reviews: CHICAGO Still Paints the Town After All These Years

The current touring production of "Chicago" is giving 'em the old razzle dazzle (and how) at the Oriental Theatre.

The story of "murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery -all the things we hold near and dear to our hearts" is back in its namesake city and what an amazing night of theater.

I've seen the touring production countless times (this show has been on tour more than 10 years; longer than I've been writing about theater) and touring companies at this point normally look a little rundown and shabby, but not this production. The merry murderesses of Cook County (a Gwen Verdon-esque Tracy Shayne as Roxy Hart and the leggy Terra C. MacLeod as Velma Kelly) along with scheming lawyer Billy Flynn (TV's John O'Hurley, striking the right balance of charm, pomp and pompousness), the corrupt warden "Mama" Morton (a jazzy and delightful Roz Ryan), the sad sack Amos Hart (as pitch-perfect a "Mr. Cellophane" as you are ever likely to find) and the rest of the ridiculously toned, muscled and scantily-clad cast that make up the dancing and singing chorus are putting the roar back in the roaring twenties.

The horn-filled score, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, is aging like a fine wine. The tunes are infectious and toe-tapping, especially so when you hear them live courtesy of brassy orchestra.  

The sultry and seductive choreography by Ann Ranking (in the style of Bob Fosse) is also still carried out with a graceful and almost military precision by the company, too.   

In an age when reality show appearances, drug-filled and drunken nightclub antics or the "accidental" release of a homemade adult movie often can lead to celebrity, the show's theme of capitalizing on one's infamy to seek out one's 15 minutes in the spotlight (and the lengths one will go to chasing that spotlight) rings more true than perhaps it did when the show first premiered in 1975.

Simply put: if you are a fan of "Chicago," go see this show.

"Chicago" runs through June 12 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets, $30-$95. Call (800) 775-2000; broadwayinchicago.

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From This Author - Misha Davenport