Sunday, September 13, 2009

CHICAGO the musical

Watched this satire of media fame at the Ambassador Theatre yesterday afternoon with TB. Directed by Walter Bobbie, Choreography by Ann Reinking, Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Music by John Kander, Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. The original production was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. Late 1920s Chicago was less a Scene than a matrix of social interactions; the orchestra on stage formed an integral part of the entertainment called American justice.

Bonnie Langford was a vivacious Roxie Hart who shot and killed her lover, and so gained, for a while, the notoriety that she had always longed for. Visibly past her sell-by-date, Langford's Roxie was fueled by a convincing desperation. Her husband Amos Hart was played by a very funny Raymond Bokhour. His rendition of "Mister Cellophane," as he swayed slightly on his feet, was entirely memorable. He filled the stage with his presence while remaining compactly himself. Tom Hewitt played the crooked lawyer Billy Flynn. He was correct in everything, but lacked the extra bit of something.

Buxomy Kecia Lewis-Evans, who played Matron "Mama" Morton, sang her solo "When You're Good to Mama" with soul and energy, but her acting was colorless. Deidre Goodwin was a velvety Velma Kelly. She held her  own in her big numbers like "All That Jazz" and "Cell Block Tango." Her best singing, inflected with feeling, was in the duet with Mama, "Class." R. Lowe, who played the reporter Mary Sunshine, surprised those of us who did not know the part involved cross-dressing.

I was expecting more from the choreography. It was professional, but hardly innovative, to my inexperienced eye. The cast seemed to be dancing at half-energy, especially in the first half.  James T. Lane stood out for his committed and precise dancing, his face as expressive as his body.

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