If you’re in the mood for jazz, murder, and some of the finest songs in Broadway history, rush down to the Fox Theatre this weekend because “Chicago” is back — but only through Sunday.
Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, this tale of two vaudeville singers in hoping for celebrity success through murder was brought to fiery life as a musical in the 1970s by Fred Ebb, John Kander and Bob Fosse. It’s been winning cheers and accolades ever since — the current revival boasts holding the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
And it actually deserves those honors — as opposed to, say, “Cats.”
Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, Roxie Hart (Dylis Croman) has just murdered her lover in a fit of rage. Turns out lots of women in 1920s Chicago went around killing men — for such crimes as adultery or gum popping. In prison Roxie meets Velma Kelly (Lana Gordon), waiting trial for the murder of her husband and sister.
Murder is a good way to get your name in the papers, and the more spectacular the crime the more attention you can get from the press. Velma and Roxie see this as a way to jumpstart their flagging showbiz careers, but before they can take the stage they must first get off the hook. Helping them out (for a price) are prison warden Mamma Morton (Jennifer Fouche) and lawyer Billy Flynn (Brent Barrett).
I love “Chicago” and hadn’t seen it for a few years, so this is a welcome if all-to-brief return. The biggest change from previous productions is the stripped-down set. Everything takes place in front of the orchestra, set up in a large square on stage, with no scenery changes.
But you don’t need a lot of fancy set designs when you have a talented cast, orchestra and all that jazz. The musical numbers are the true stars here, including such memorable tunes as “Cell Block Tango,” “Roxie,” Razzle Dazzle” and “Class.”
Among the cast, I was particularly impressed with Paul Vogt as Amos, Roxie’s hapless, frumpy husband; and Brent Barrett as the smarmy defense attorney. The ladies are equally talented.
They say crime doesn’t pay but it can be entertaining. At least in “Chicago.”
“Chicago” runs through Sunday at the Fox Theatre. https://www.fabulousfox.com/