Music, Sex and Razzle-Dazzle in “
By Skip Sheffield
A hot band, even hotter dancers, a dynamic duo of leading ladies and the most dapper and handsome Billy Flynn ever are the hallmarks of “Chicago,” which kicks off a new season Broadway Across America through Oct. 20 at
for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
The winner of six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Musical revival, “Chicago,” which debuted on Broadway in 1975, is the best work by the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, working with famed director-choreographer Bob Fosse. It is indeed one of the most popular musicals of all time.
is first and foremost a satire about everything sleazy in American politics,
law and culture. It is set in the appropriately lawless Roaring 20s in the city
of the title.
The show begins with a short prologue by a statuesque showgirl promising a show about “All the things we hold near and dear to our heart:” sex, booze, crime, corruption and publicity.
Velma Kelly (Terra C. MacLeod) and Roxie Hart (Anne Horak) are currently incarcerated and waiting trial for murder in the not unfriendly cellblock ruled by “Mama” Thornton (Carol Woods). We get to see Roxie plug her boyfriend Fred (Jon-Paul Matero) as setup for “The Cell Black Tango” with its refrain, “He had it coming.”
Both women have hired the slick, expensive, and utterly insincere lawyer Billy Flynn (John O’Hurley) as their attorney. Flynn celebrates his hypocrisy in the ironic ballad “All I Need (is love).”
O’Hurley, best known for his 14 years as J. Peterman on the “Seinfeld” TV show, fits the role of Billy Flynn as perfectly as his tailored tuxedo. O’Hurley has played Flynn countless times in countless productions, yet he keeps it fresh in a cleverly tongue-in-cheek fashion.
The production features an onstage band that interacts with the performers on occasion. I must say it is fun to see an ensemble, conducted by Jack Gaugham, with a banjo, accordion and tuba among its instruments.
Anne Horak is fresh and sweet in the ingénue role of Roxie, while Terra MacLeod is predictably bitter, catty but unbowed as the older Velma.
The foolish but poignant role of Amos Hart, Roxie’s hapless husband, is nicely realized by Todd Buonopane in his signature song, “Mister Cellophane.”
My female companion was nothing short of dazzled by the virile young dudes who comprise the male dance chorus. I must say the women are pretty darn agile too.
is perfect escapist entertainment in time of trouble, which let’s face it, is
always. Forget real-life political shenanigans for awhile and enjoy them played
for laughs. You have only until Oct. 20 to enjoy this “Razzle-Dazzle.”
Tickets are $34.50-$79.50 and may be reserved by calling 954-426-0222 or going to www.browardcenter.org.