It’s hard to erase the collective minds of Chicago devotees. Although the stage musical has been around for more than 30 years, those who love the story inevitably have seen the Academy Award-winning movie many times over. It takes a talented cast to wipe the images of Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah and Richard Gere from the hearts and minds of an enthusiastic audience.
It took a couple of numbers for the Community Center Theater audience to embrace the new “kids,” but the multitalented actors, singers and dancers with the current Chicago touring company made their own indelible mark. The leads put their own signatures on their roles, so instead of the pouty-mouthed Zellweger as the young ingénue Roxie Hart, we get a sassy Michelle DeJean, reminiscent of a young Bette Midler. Billy Flynn is less suave and more of a streetwise snake with Greg Evigan in the role. Carol Woods (as Matron “Mama” Morton), Terra C. MacLeod (as Velma Kelly) and Kevin Carolan (as Amos Hart) all were standouts.
Chicago’s intriguing storyline follows Hart as she gets caught up with sex, jazz, murder, cellblock sisters, sleazy lawyers and sensational tabloids. It’s a sly social commentary on crime, news, the legal system and notoriety, but it’s also a great musical. Here, memorable songs and witty lyrics are paired with imaginative choreography and naughty costumes. Everything comes together in great numbers like “All That Jazz,” “When You’re Good to Mama” and “Razzle Dazzle.”