In the pulse-racing revival of the musical 'Chicago,' which opened last night at the Richard Rodgers Theater, all the world's a con game, and show business is the biggest scam of all. It makes a difference, though, when the hustle involves a cast of top-flight artists perfectly mated to their parts and some of the sexiest, most sophisticated dancing seen on Broadway in years. By the time the priceless Bebe Neuwirth, playing a hoofer turned murderer, greets the audience at the beginning of the second act with the salutation 'Hello, suckers!,' it's a label we're all too happy to accept. The America portrayed onstage may be a vision of hell, but the way it's being presented flies us right into musical heaven.
CHICAGO Broadway Reviews
Reviews of Chicago on Broadway. See what all the critics had to say and see all the ratings for Chicago including the New York Times and More...
Because the revival of "Chicago" is so wildly entertaining, I'm hesitant to call it important - always an ugly adjective for a reviewer to use - but I'm afraid I must... What makes "Chicago" - here's that dreaded word - important is that it reminds us that musicals are about songs and performers, not scenery. When you have material and performances as dynamic as this, you don't need chandeliers.
Any gripes about the producers of "Chicago" charging full-scale prices for a stripped-down show evaporate like vapors from bathtub gin the second Bebe Neuwirth & Co. open the show with a pulse-quickening rendition of "All That Jazz." This concert staging, wonderfully choreographed by Ann Reinking (with a credit to "the style of Bob Fosse"), is a bit more elaborate than when presented by City Center's Encores series in the spring, but even if it weren't, the performances, wit and sophistication of the show would more than earn a place on Broadway.
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We are watching a torch pass from the lost glory of the Bob Fosse musical to - at the very least - this single important revival. And it is bliss. It is also edgy, erotic, cynical, funny, nonstop stylish and, though based on a 21-year-old show, so prescient about '90s justice, the press and celebrity that it's almost eerie.
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