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Theater Wed Jun 08 2011

Chicago: The Musical

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John O'Hurley in Chicago. Photo: Paul Kolnik

Chicago is definitely a musical that despite its many revivals will always be revered among theatergoers--and if the packed house at last night's opening at the Oriental Theatre was any indication, the long-running Broadway hit will remain a fan favorite for many years to come.

A story of murder, adultery and greed, and set in Chicago in the 1920s, Chicago centers on Roxie Hart (Tracy Shayne), a fame-seeking adulteress who murders her lover and is sent to jail. During her incarceration, she becomes entangled with a cast of characters including Matron "Mama" Morton (Roz Ryan), the prison "mother" at Cook County Jail who grants favors, but never without reciprocity; Billy Flynn (award-winning actor John O'Hurley), a slick, sensational lawyer whom Roxie hires to handle her trial; and Velma Kelly, a fellow, fame hungry chanteuse whose fading star fades even faster upon Roxie's arrival. Through a series of musical numbers, the audience learns that in the end, the pursuit of fame often comes with a price.

Of course, the musical numbers in Chicago are always a highlight, and in this production, one of the standouts was Roxie and Billy Flynn's near-perfect version of their ventriloquist act, "We Both Reached for the Gun." Through the magic of Hollywood, it was obviously very easy to pull this off in the Academy Award-winning film's version; however, it was even more interesting to see it performed for a live show.

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Chicago. Photo: Paul Kolnik.

Another highlight came via Amos Hart (Ron Orbach), Roxie's frumpy, yet kind-hearted husband who desperately yearns for her--or anybody's attention--throughout the entire play. Orbach played Amos so convincingly well that he both earned the title of "scene stealer" and won over the audience with his solo number, "Mister Cellophane."

Whenever there is a film made of a popular Broadway production, inevitable comparisons will always be made; of course, Chicago is no different. But while big screen versions, in many regards, will always have elements that live versions will not, one thing is for certain: You simply can't beat the actors' reaction to and interaction with the audience; for many, that is truly the best part of the experience.

Chicago runs through June 12 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph; show time Thurs. and Fri., June 8-9 is at 7:30pm, Sat., Jun. 11 at 2pm and 8pm, and Sun., June 12 at 2pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $30-$95 and can be purchased online and at all Broadway in Chicago box offices. For more information, call 312-977-1710.

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Jack / June 13, 2011 8:34 AM

I can't agree that it was a great show. I guess I should have known that being a travelling company the staging would not be that great. Also, I think I was spoiled by the movie. The staging consisted of the band on a sort of bleacher-like backdrop with the dancing and singing done in front of them .... no spectacular set like I'm used to at the Oriental. I'm no dance critic, but it seemed to me to be less than exciting. Also, some of the singing (especially Roxie Hart) did not project well. Maybe the guy on the mixer was at fault. Costuming was drab .. a lot of black. I should say that it received a standing ovation, so maybe it was me that just expected too much.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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