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Theatre Review (LA): Chicago – The Musical at the Pantages

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Chicago-The Musical is the fourth longest running show on Broadway. It is also the basis for the Academy Ward-winning movie by the same name. There have been productions in England and around the world. There have also been several tours. One of the reasons that Chicago has lasted so long is that the producers have kept the show alive by so-called “stunt” casting, usually in the role of Roxie. This means a name from another medium will go into the show and her “track” or part is adjusted according to her skills as a dancer. Such is the case in the current tour starring Christie Brinkley, one of the world’s most famous supermodels. She acquits herself very well despite the fact that her dancing requirements have been drastically reduced. She is gorgeous, has a husky singing voice, and her acting is terrific.

Supporting Ms. Brinkley is John O’Hurley who has appeared on game shows as a host, on Broadway (Spamalot), and on Seinfeld. Though he too isn’t much of a dancer, his suave manner and acting abilities work very well in the role of Billy Flynn. A wonderful actress/dancer/singer Amra-Faye Wright plays Velma and is fantastic in the role. She has played this role since 2001 worldwide.

The rest of the cast is really first-rate and perhaps the best I have seen (I have seen the show four times). Ron Orbach does a stellar job as “Amos,” Roxie’s forlorn husband (“Mr. Cellophane”). Lenny Daniel is a cutup as the jury. R. Lowe is simply outstanding as “Mary Sunshine” and what a voice. Rounding out the principals is Carol Woods as “Matron Mama Morton.” She nearly steals the show with her number “When you’re good to Mama.”

The tour is in great shape and is as good as you are going to see this show. Also, as is typical with tours, there are some “improvements” such as the interactions with the conductor that add new delights to the goings-on. Chicago will be at the Pantages until May 27th.

 

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