Chicago, John Kander and Fred Ebb’s darkly comic musical about a murderous moll in the Prohibition-era Windy City, seems to be serving a life sentence on Broadway after a successful run of nearly 14 years. (EW's original review) The terrific Tony-winning 1996 revival paved the way for a 2002 Oscar-winning movie adaptation and a revolving door of on-stage guest stars, many in the role of felonious fame whore Roxie Hart.
These days, the Broadway show is notably free of stunt-casting. Ann Reinking’s Bob Fosse-inspired choreography still stirs, and the Kander-Ebb score is studded with memorable melodies and delicious, satiric bite. But the main players seem like the second stringers they are, delivering performances that are solidly professional but just a little too exaggerated, a little too broad.
As Roxie, Ruthie Henshall has the vocal chops but her characterization is all over the place (she adopts a Southern accent in some scenes, drops it in others, and maintains a broad smile even when the moment doesn’t call for one). Amra-Faye Wright has the attitude and a killer singing voice as Velma Kelly, but her would-be show-stopping number ”I Can’t Do It Alone” lacks a certain razzle-dazzle in the dancing department. Colman Domingo’s slick attorney Billy Flynn and Tom Riis Farrell’s Amos ”Mr. Cellophane” Hart fare better, but neither makes a truly lasting impression. At least not compared to the hard-working, tightly coordinated dancing ensemble.
Even without a real headliner on stage, though, the show is still the star. B
(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800-432-7250)