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BWW Review: CHICAGO at The Muny

Review: CHICAGO at The Muny

Kander and Ebb Musical Opens the Muny's 104th Season

 

To open their 104th season, The Muny reprises last year's award-winning show CHICAGO that closed early due to positive COVID tests among the cast. This production of the classic Kander and Ebb musical was the big winner last year at the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards winning seven awards, including Outstanding Production of a Musical, Best Director of a Musical (Dennis Jones), Outstanding Supporting Performer in a musical (Adam Heller), Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical (Emily Rebholz), Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical, Outstanding Musical Director (Charlie Alterman), and Outstanding Choreography (Dennis Jones.) Its seven wins makes CHICAGO one of the most award-winning productions in the history of the St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

CHICAGO is the story of two murderesses, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, who vie for criminal celebrity status. This is an innovative production that slays the audience. Again this year, The Muny has staged pure musical theater magic with the revival of this production. CHICAGO opened on Monday and runs through Sunday, June 19th.

Denis Jones (Director/Choreographer) and Barry Busby (Associate Choreographer) have assembled a splendid cast plus an ensemble of highly skilled dance professionals to pack the expansive Muny stage. Their choreography pays tribute to Fosse's sexy and subtle work but morph it into grand movements that play to the back of this massive 11,000-seat house. Their choreography on "We Both Reached for the Gun" is an electrifying delight.

The high-kicking J. Harrison Ghee pairs with hoofer Sarah Bowden to portray Velma and Roxie as the brash and audacious fame seeking muderers. Their on-stage partnership works on every level thanks to their combined charisma and physical comedy. Ghee's presence is felt immediately when delivering the rousing opening number ("All That Jazz") with robust vocals. His entrance downstage is paced perfectly to drive audience's anticipation during the opening vamp. His movement sets the tone for the Fosse-inspired choreography to follow. Bowden's Roxie is a sexy femme fatal with a perfectly feigned naivete to illicit sympathy from a gullible jury. Her dancing is extraordinary. Her shapes and lines are terpsichorean perfection when she performs "Roxie." The throw away number "Me and My Baby" early in the second act is an unexpected treat thanks to her remarkable dance talent.

James T. Lane plays the slick tongued attorney with confident arrogance. His Billy Flynn is persuasively charming and compelling. Lane leads some of the best musical numbers of the show with "We Both Reached for the Gun" and "Razzle Dazzle." His performance never disappoints. Adam Heller, in his award-winning performance, endears himself to the audience with his sad sack portrayal of Roxie's husband Amos. His "Mr. Cellophane" is musical theater charm. Emily Skinner delivers a fun "When You're Good to Mama" and pairs perfectly with Ghee on "Class."

CHICAGO premiered on Broadway in 1975. Often the term musical theater classic means a dated script, but CHICAGO has stood the test of time. The Kander and Ebb score is among the most memorable musical theater scores written and is filled with songs that stick with you long after a production is over. The Muny has breathed fresh life into this 50-year-old show by assembling an ensemble of dancers that thrill the audience with Jones' exhilarating choreography. This production of CHICAGO razzles, dazzles, and provides all that jazz thanks to a brilliant cast, superb choreography, and an exceptional directorial vision.

CHICAGO, sponsored by Edward Jones, runs through June 19, 2022 at The Muny. For Tickets visit metrotix.com or The Muny Box Office in Forest Park. Visit muny.org for more information.

uny.org for more information.

 




From This Author - James Lindhorst

Jim Lindhorst has been a theater enthusiast for nearly 5-decades. He was bitten by the theater bug as a young teen while sitting in the last row of the upper balcony to see the first national tour of... (read more about this author)


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