Add it to your bucket list: seeing Chicago in Chicago. No, not the 2002 movie with a pre-botox Renee Zellweger and young Richard Gere. You need to see the musical…live…on Broadway…at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St.). The most recent engagement of the 20-year old hit musical is only in Chicago for one week — but that’s one week of time to book an experience of a lifetime and cross something crucial off your bucket list.
It’s the tragic, yet oh-so-comical story of the cute and naive Roxie Hart (played by Dylis Croman) who finds herself in jail after killing Fred Casely (Brent Heuser) — the man she’s been sneaking off with while her plump husband Amos (Paul C. Vogt) remains clueless. But the details aren’t the stars of the show — it’s the raw talent exuding from the entire cast, particularly Croman and her partner in crime (pun sort of intended) Terra C. MacLeod (as Velma).
As veteran performers, MacLeod and Croman know their way around a stage — and especially in the shoes of their respective characters. MacLeod has higher kicks and finer splits than many performers. Her rendition of “I Can’t Do it Alone” had the entire audience gazing in wonderment as she flounced across the stage accompanied with a deep, alto singing voice that kept the tone of the play mysterious and moody.
The star of the show, however, was Croman. You might not expect it from the petite redhead who has few beginning lines and doesn’t necessarily stand out from the cast. But when Roxie realizes her fame with the aptly named song “Roxie,” Croman as well emerges as a star.
The song — which mostly includes Roxie talking about her success over the light and monotonous orchestra music — features Croman standing on the stage and gazing at the daily paper in wonderment of the big block letters that read her name. It’s then the audience is aware of Roxie’s fame and feels the giddiness of Roxie and her newfound fame. It’s a feeling that can only be transmitted through Croman’s quirky acting. She emphasizes all the right words and talks to the audience members as if they are her best friend — making for an intimate yet fun performance.
The one-week engagement of Chicago doesn’t sport a lot of ritzy glamour and numerous costume changes. The characters’ outfits are black and simple while the set is equally so (the orchestra fills up a majority of the stage, rather than sitting in a pit) and the props are also kept to a minimum. But where the props and set lack, the high kicks and sharp singing fill.
Twelve ensemble members accompany Croman and MacLeod along with the staple characters: Mama Morton (Roz Ryan), Amos (Vogt) and the swanky lawyer Billy Flynn (John O’Hurley). Each actor has their shining moment (even Amos with his lackluster personality and appearance).
The only downfall to the performance was the fast-moving scenes. For those who haven’t seen Chicago before, the storyline could get muddled. But there’s no doubt that the singing and dancing kept the audience entertained and even swaying in their seats. The talent was that of any experienced Broadway performer, but with the play only stopping by Chicago for one week, the talented performances should not be missed.
Chicago runs through May 15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St). Tickets are $27 to $82 and are available at broadwayinchicago.com.