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BWW Review: CHICAGO at the Dr. Richard T. Mamiya Theatre

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BWW Review: CHICAGO at the Dr. Richard T. Mamiya Theatre

Jazzing up central Oahu at the Dr. Richard T. Mamiya theatre is the "junior" production of esteemed Broadway magnate Bob Fosse's Chicago. A glitzy musical filled with deceit, manipulation, and murder, Saint Louis Center for the Arts's production is an enjoyable time at the theatre.

Set amidst the backdrop of a jazz-age Chicago, the satirical story follows the lives of Velma Kelly (staple and steadfast Kira Stone) and Roxie Hart (an impressive Lyric Medeiros), both criminals hellbent on obtaining justice and freedom from their current incarceration of the murders of men who've done them wrong. Aiding in their individual endeavors to oust themselves from prison is the money-hungry and conceited Billy Flynn (Cormac Hurley), who takes Roxie under his wing over Velma, an act that leaves Velma in both raging fury and jealousy. What ensues is a spectacle of lies, manipulation, and, of course, jazz numbers.

What stands out most about the production is---per usual with this theatre---the cast. At first stalwartly led by the vivacious Stone, last seen as the titular Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, her embodiment of Velma is the antithesis of her prim-and-proper Mary, as she convincingly sells the acidic, yet vulnerable nature of Velma's persona. Without a doubt the most famous song from the show, her rendition of "All that Jazz" is a force to be reckoned with, as her take on both the song and character help to establish this vulnerable woman. Further, as it is the opening number, it rests on Stone's shoulders to both set and establish the tone of the show, for without an appropriate one, the musical faces risk of falling tonally imbalanced. However, Stone succeeds with not only this but also with conveying Velma, whose underlying commentary of the events around her heard within her dialogue and the nuances of her gestures help to tell the story. Moreover, Medeiros stuns in her role as Roxie. Per the playbill, she has starred in a few productions at this theatre, all of which I did not see, but seeing her in this production honestly blew me away. She has such a presence about her, and she commands every scene she is in. Her acting is superbly natural and very rarely contrived, which speaks heaps on behalf of her performance, as the character of Roxie is one who contrives most of her character's personal life in order to free herself from incarceration. Also, as the 2002 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the musical is so well-known and beloved to many, I often found myself recalling the performances of Renee Zellweger as Roxie and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma---both of whom deliver stunning performances---but between these two leads, Stone and Medeiros both find ways to put their own spin and take on their character, by which at the halfway point of the production, the recalling of the film left my mind. Other standouts in the production include Rachel Faith Javier as the 'titah' Matron "Mama" Morton, Alyse Glaser as Hunyak, and, based on audience reaction, THE most beloved character of the show, Miles Kroeker as Amos Hart.

The only notable and unfortunately apparent downfall would be the fact that the show tries too hard circumvent the sordid aspects of the show, notably its sexual themes and the sensuality of some of the characters. A fan of the original stage production or the film version will likely be familiar with these elements, and while it is very understandable---and laudable, in fact!---that this production tries to tone them down, its approach felt like somewhat of an 'elephant in the room'. Other than this miniscule downfall, the show is quite enjoyable.

Overall, Saint Louis Center for the Arts's Chicago can ultimately classify itself within the canon of successful productions that this theatre has mounted. Most notably due to its stalwart lead performances by Stone and Medeiros, the show is one to truly relish. It is also worth mentioning that it is quite refreshing to witness a show with an array of strong female leading characters at its epicenter, giving the female talent involved in the show their greatest opportunity to shine. The show opened this past weekend and runs through March 17. For tickets, call 808-734-5058 x224.


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