REVIEW: CHICAGO the National Tour
at The Denver Center
by Emilee Hatfield
The national tour of CHICAGO opened the doors of the Cook County jail on Tuesday evening at the Buell Theatre, leaving people feeling the Fosse by the end of the high energy musical, including myself. It only goes to show that within the world of musicals there’s Broadway…..and then there’s Chicago.
In this superb production, all eyes fall on Miss Roxie Hart (portrayed by the incredible Dylis Croman), a merry murderess that has just been sentenced to jail after shooting a lover that tries to walk out on her. She carries a certain flair within Roxie that would not allow you to look away from her at any given time that she was on stage. Her attention to Roxie’s character had charm and an irresistible flair that caught everyone’s in the audience. Fosse is a style of dance, that takes so much control and fluidity and yet Croman does it so effortlessly, carrying the show in a way that even Bob Fosse would have been proud of.
In most shows we often root for a title character or ensemble such as with many modern shows that are misunderstood or naive. Some characters aren’t aware of the consequences their actions have or struggle with certain flaws that they try to overcome; leaving us rooting for the underdog. Chicago however is not like that. It’s characters are complex but also openly confident in what they are doing and why they are doing it. The perfect examples are Roxie, the starlet Velma Kelly, or the silver tongued lawyer, Billy Flynn. Each of these characters never have second thoughts on who they are, or where they stand. It’s a bold, confident and prominent trait of the era that still to this day draws people into this memorable musical.
One thing that I must praise is the production’s attention to detail and style when handling the era. Entering the theatre we only see a spotlight on a single chair, with a black hat resting and waiting—Simple yet effective. As the show begins, the backdrop lifts to the reveal the orchestra situated comfortably in the center of the stage allowing you to see each and every member. I never expected the actors to interact with the conductor while they are in character. It certainly continues that charm only Chicago can carry, and again keeps true to it’s setting. With original designs by John Lee Beatty, it is safe to say this design will never get old to the eye; plus the added decor of the glitz and glamour of Chicago framing —quite literally— the show.
Of course, with story and its characters that are too good to not enjoy, it still remains obvious what is the crown jewel of this production. That being the choreography by Ann Reinking and recreation by David Bushman as well as the score by John Kander and Fred Ebb. I do not think I will be able to get this music out of my head for months to come. This tour brings the shows magic from Broadway to Denver and leaves us all a bit Razzle Dazzled by the time they are done.
Dance your way into CHICAGO, playing now through December 3rd at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center Complex. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Box Office by calling 303-893-4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org.