By Katie Stotts
The #1 longest-running American musical has come to Austin, and as always, it's a hit! Chicago has been one of the most recognizable Broadway plays for many years with songs like All That Jazz, Cell Block Tango, Razzle Dazzle, and many more.
The play is set in 1920s...you guessed it...Chicago. It weaves a story of sin, jazz, and the roaring 20s as it follows the lives of a few fame-hungry murderesses who try to make their way out from behind bars and into the spotlight where they belong. The characters are simultaneously spunky and tragic, and you even root for them during the he had it comin' type revenge ballads that rock the stage.
This particular performance features some great cast members, with John O' Hurley (of Seinfeld fame) billed at the top. Never was a role such a perfect fit as the quirky deep-voiced O'Hurley playing a charming, fast-talking and detached lawyer to the mistresses of murderers' row. I was equally excited to see the powerful-voiced Carol Woods as Matron "Mama" Morton. Woods always stands out in my mind from delivering the most heart-melting performance of the Beatles' Let it Be in the 2007 movie, Across the Universe.
However, most important to this play are the battling man-killers Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. I wasn't as pleased with Terra C. McLeod's version of Velma compared with other versions I've seen, as it felt too studied and terse. Her voice was classic in its Broadway-esque melodramatic tones, but to the point of feeling a bit campy. All That Jazz is an opening number that is supposed to build tension and excitement for the rest of the play. In a play with minimalist costume and set, the theatrics, voice, and dance are the real stars, and McLeod's lack of spontaneous spark in this version didn't set the pace for a flashy, exciting show.
This show eventually found its pace and I was wowed by Anne Horak as Roxie, who delivered a great blend of hilarity and egotism that gives Chicago that famous edge. Chicago is a must-see for those just getting their feet wet in classic Broadway and seasoned viewers alike. Austinites will be glad to know that this version is every bit the real deal.
Weekdays at 8pm except for Monday, Saturdays at 2 & 8pm, Sundays at 1pm & 7pm through November 24
For more information, call (512) 471-4454 or to buy tickets, click here!