The Wife and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday. We had two options as to what to do. 1) attend a screening of “Magic Mike,” a movie about male strippers, or 2) attend the Muny premiere of “Chicago,” a musical about women who become famous for killing men — usually their lovers.
While it might have been dangerous for me to take The Wife to see “Chicago,” I figured it was less dangerous than taking her to the male stripper movie. Besides, we’ve seen “Chicago” several times and she hasn’t tried to kill me yet.
Since it was a special occasion, we decided not to do the typical Little Caesar’s Pizza and Crazy Bread pre-show feast and actually do something nice. Since time can sometimes be tight between getting home from work and getting to the theater, we opted to check out The Culver Pavilion, The Muny’s own on-site restaurant.
It’s a buffet set-up, which might not be the most romantic of ways to eat, but it suited us fine. I like being able to get up and pick-and-choose and not have to wait for waiters. There were a couple of stations with the salads, bread, fruit and whatnot and a couple of stations with the entrees.
The menu for the night included fruit smoothies (tasty), salads (also tasty), an assortment of breads (likewise tasty), Oven Broiled Basa Fish Filet (didn’t touch it. I prefer my fish fried in batter), Zucchini Parmesan (didn’t touch it. I prefer my zuchchini deep fried in batter from the Red Barn), Roasted Potato Medley (back to tasty), assorted pastas (OK, kinda bland), Italian Beef Sandwiches (delicious) and some kind of dessert cake with a raspberry (tasty).
We ate our fill and then some then made our way to the main event. “Chicago” is probably my favorite musical. The music by John Kander and Fred Ebb is terrific and all the songs are memorable (well, except maybe the one by Mary Sunshine), the characters are fun and the story is compelling. I was curious to see what The Muny crew could do with it. They did an excellent job.
For the musical theater-impaired, “Chicago” is the story of two women — Velma Kelly (Natascia Diaz) and Roxie Hart (Patti Murin) — trying to achieve celebrity through murder in 1920s Chicago. Aiding them in their endeavors — when the money’s right — are jailhouse matron Mama Morton (Jackie Hoffman) and sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn (Justin Guarini).
Oh, and did I forget to mention Roxie’s hapless husband Amos (Dean Christopher)? Well, he’s used to it.
The cast delivers the goods — from the leads to the dancers in the ensemble. Andrea Lauer’s costume designs are sleek and shiny. Steven Gilliam fills the stage with a smart two-level nightclub set, with the talented orchestra on stage on the top level.
The show’s main draw remains the musical numbers, which are as witty and sharp as ever. It does make me a little nervous how much The Wife loves “Cell Block Tango.”
“Chicago” runs through July 1. http://www.muny.org/