Review: CHICAGO at The Lexington Theatre Company

The production runs now through August 7th

By: Aug. 05, 2022
Review: CHICAGO at The Lexington Theatre Company

Chicago the Musical is in a word, iconic, especially for musical theatre types. Thanks to a wildly successful film adaptation, it's a cemented staple in pop culture. With perhaps John Kander and Fred Ebb's most recognizable score, the show has been wowing broadway audiences since 1996 and is still the longest running American musical. The Lexington Theatre company closes their summer season with the show, and while the whole of their production was indeed greater than the some of it's parts, "Razzle Dazzled" isn't how I would describe my feelings throughout the opening night performance.

The story is fairly simple, Roxie Hart is a wannabe vaudeville star, who in a fit of rage she kills her lover. When her husband comes home and sells her out, she's sent to jail on murder charges (at a time when crime was sensationalized by the public). With the help of a corrupt warden and a silver tongued Lawyer, she's skyrocketed to stardom. Ex-Vaudeville star Velma Kelly serves as her adversary, who is also being tried for murder. They both constantly try to steal the public spotlight from each other for as long as they can, until they ultimately and unceremoniously become yesterday's news.

The cast is made up of Broadway talent along with fresh faces from the Kentucky area. The biggest standout by far was Haley Fish as Velma Kelly. While a bit young for the role, she owned every inch of the stage, with a mixture of wit and attitude-it was hard to take your eyes off of her. Fish truly carried the show on her back at times. Along with Fish, local Louisville drag star Gilda Wabbit was an absolute delight as Mary Sunshine. Making the most out of limited stage time, she flawlessly executed what is one of the most deceptively difficult roles in musical theatre. Kristin Yancy as Roxie Hart had a good amount of charisma, but her vocals were lacking on opening night, and her choreography wasn't as sharp as it should've been. J. Daughtry as Billy Flynn had a lot of great moments, and he gave the character some much needed attitude which I loved to see. The rest of the cast, including the ensemble, was serviceable, but Chicago is a show that needs to wow you at every possible moment, and while there were some definite bright stars in the cast, the entire company wasn't as hot as they were lukewarm.

I can't help but think a lot of the issues with the lackluster elements could've been fine tuned with better direction. The staging is about 75% identical to what you would see on Broadway, and while I admire the dedication to staying true to the show's modern roots, I can't help but feel this was a detriment to the production. With the lack of original ideas on display, it feels very hollow, and like an imitation. Right down to a bandstand in the middle of the stage, the broadway version has been somewhat sloppily recreated. A lot of the performances, especially the ensemble, could've used a heavier hand in direction. So many of the choices were so big and unfortunately lacked nuance.

Chicago is a wonderfully written musical, and when it's done well, it's spectacular. The Lexington Theatre Company's production sadly never reaches the true greatness this show deserves. However, a handful of standout performances make this a worthwhile endeavor. A lot of the ingredients for success are here, but the show ultimately comes out undercooked, which I'm sad to have to report.


Now - August 7th

The Lexington Theatre Company @ The Lexington Opera House