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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 19, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 47
Fun Chicago worth a trip
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Fun Chicago worth a trip

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Chicago
Seattle Musical Theatre
Through December 4


The stage musical Chicago is different than the movie musical Chicago, mostly due to the tongue-in-cheek style it uses to tell the story. You have, for example, a narrator announcing, 'Now, a tap dance.' And a tap dancer is seen in the background as the main character, Roxie, pleads with her husband to take her back while 'tap dancing' around her infidelities to him.

Chicago is currently on stage at Seattle Musical Theatre (maybe we can stop calling it 'the former Civic Light Opera' now). Directed by Ann Arends, the big band era set by Dan Suiter has the band onstage for the full production. The slightly larger than usual band, led as usual by excellent music director Paul Linnes, sounds great. Razzle-dazzle costuming by Deanne Middleton and Sheryl Cope fits the theme and the period well.

An enthusiastic cast attempts extremely sophisticated choreography by Crystal Dawn Munkers, mostly to pretty good effect, though it looks awkward on some of the less experienced dancers. Munkers' background includes working with Ben Vereen, so she has a great grasp of the Fosse style of choreography, so is suited to this musical. That's fun to see, but her ambition exceeds a few of the performers.

The basic story is a cynical one, with Roxie killing a lover because he threatens to dump her, then vying with other female jailhouse inhabitants to get publicity to garner sympathetic jurors and then get freed by claiming self-defense along with fake crying, sexy courtroom moves, and coaching from a shady lawyer. It's clear that it's all a game - from manipulating the gullible press to lying on the stand to planning a post-freedom vaudeville act.

From the very first moments of the show, you don't take it seriously. All the focus is on the execution. As Roxie, Danielle Barnum is in great voice and perfectly ready for this role. Doug Knoop, as her haplessly hoodwinked husband, is engagingly pathetic, and we empathize.

Lindsey Larson, as the other vaudeville-star-wannabe that wants her day at trial, is young for this role and under-seasoned. She's game and has a lovely voice, but it would have been nice to see another female of equal power to Barnum.

Equal vocal power and presence to Barnum is found from Bradetta Vines as 'Mama' Morton, the jail warden. Also, an almost uncredited performance by Ryan McCabe - in the program as 'R. McCabe' to dupe the audience into thinking he might be female - is a fantastic small role, with a big song. His falsetto is purely feminine, to his credit.

Troy Johnson as the shady lawyer Billy Flynn does an overall good job, with a big persona and a big voice. Someone's gotta tell him, though, to think 'higher' to hit his high ending notes, which flatten an otherwise good performance.

For more information, go to www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org or call 206-363-2809.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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