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BWW Review: CHICAGO Dazzles at Fox Cites P.A.C.

Appleton's Fox Cities Performing Arts Center welcomes CHICAGO THE MUSICAL this week, and it is sure to wow audiences.

CHICAGO THE MUSICAL, one of the longest running shows in Broadway history, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Broadway revival this year. When it opened, it won eight Drama Desk Awards and eight Tony Awards, but after all these years, the show still dazzles.

Based on a 1926 play of the same name, CHICAGO follows a group of women labeled "merry murderesses." One "merry murderess," Roxie Hart (played by Dylis Croman), becomes the toast of the town while trying to skirt murder charges with the help of her slick lawyer, Billy Flynn (played by John O'Hurley). Meanwhile, Velma Kelly (played by Terra C. MacLeod), a former vaudeville star, looks to redirect some of that limelight to herself.

The Kander & Ebb music and lyrics will get stuck in your head for days, and their hilarious book never fails to get laughs.

Ann Reinking's reimagining of the original Bob Fosse choreography is among the best choreography you'll see in any musical. It alternates between fast, sharp movements and slow, smooth movements. Seemingly small hand movements are used to great effect.

Similarly, the unique staging is very impactful. The band is situated onstage, lending to the feeling of being in a jazz club in the 1920s. The cast frequently interacts with the conductor with self-referential humor that is entertaining and engaging.

The whole cast of the show shines. Sometimes with dance intensive musicals, it is easy to tell which cast members are more focused on dance, which are more focused on acting, and which are more focused on singing. However, in this cast, everyone seems to be a true triple threat, and there are no weak spots. The cast certainly deserved to complete their bows before audience members began rushing out, and it is unfortunate that this did not happen.

Dylis Croman gives a showstopping performance as wide-eyed murderess Roxie Hart. She has an outstanding voice, superior dance skills, and great comedy chops. She has the kind of charm that will make audiences really root for her.

Terra C. MacLeod plays ambitious former Vaudeville star Velma Kelly. This is a very dance-intensive role, but Terra C. MacLeod made everything look easy.

John O'Hurley as Billy Flynn has a full, resonant voice and impeccable comedic timing. He makes a character that could easily seem unlikeable remarkably likeable.

Similarly, the actors in the smaller roles also shine during their moments in the spotlight. Paul C. Vogt is sympathetic as Amos Hart. Roz Ryan offered a subtle and hilarious performance as Matron "Mama" Morton. D. Ratell as Mary Sunshine is entertaining, intriguing, and has an absolutely incredible range. University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point graduate Thomas Bevan is funny and charming as Bailiff/Court Clerk. His facial expressions are particularly entertaining during the courtroom scene.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the show is that you cannot see everything that is happening on stage at the same time. In the number "Razzle Dazzle," for instance, each cast member is often doing a unique and remarkable pose, but since each is intriguing, it is difficult to decide who to look at at any given moment.

CHICAGO THE MUSICAL will play at Appleton's Fox Cities Performing Arts Center through Sunday, May 22. Tickets are still available.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

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From This Author Meredith Kreisa