“Razzle Dazzle” us with “Chicago”

It all started with a bang!

With six Tony Awards, two Oliver Awards, and a Grammy, the musical Chicago took Costa Mesa, California by storm for a week at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

This was my first experience with the musical although I have watched the film version – which stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere – countless of times and know the musical numbers by heart, I was taken aback (in a good way) by the differences between the live stage performance and the film.

Although the film provided the audience with an endless amount of props and actors, the musical on the other hand only provided a handful of actors whom played several different characters, about two sets of wardrobe changes, and minimal props. With the orchestra propped behind the actors rather than within the pit, the audience was given a movie-like act and a type of performance that a typical musical attendee may not be used to.

I appreciated the idea that the musical only had a handful of actors, both playing at least two to three different roles, mainly because it gave the actors time to shine rather than focusing all of the attention on the stars of the show. Although Terra C MacLeod (Velma Kelly), Paige Davis (Roxie Hart), and John O’Hurley (Billy Flynn) did a fantastic job with their roles by giving their characters a bit of a twist (such as making Billy more suave and Roxie a tad more energetic and spunky), I found myself more interested in what Sherisse Springer (Liz/extra) and Shamicka Benn-Moser (Go-to-Hell-Kitty/extra) were doing. With a simple glance, dance move, or energetic smile and reaction to the scene in front of them, the duo had stolen the show and made it memorable. Instead of paying attention to the main cast, my eyes occasionally wondered around the stage in search of both Springer and Benn-Moser.

The music was everything a Chicago lover would expect and more. With the lack of props other than a chair or hat here and there, the viewer was allowed to indulge in the dance moves that were presented by the actors without any distraction. I appreciated the fact that instead of becoming distracted by the backdrop or moving props, I was actually able to take a second and look down at the actor’s feet without feeling like I have missed something important on stage right or left.

Chicago is a great musical to experience live and in person rather than sitting at home and watching the film version. The difference in sets, dance steps, and the added musical numbers really makes the performance feel unique and personalized for that night’s audience. Throughout the performance (especially during Razzle Dazzle and Roxie), I began to feel like that show was somehow meant for me every time an actor would come up on stage and personally speak and connect to the audience; either by showing the newspaper with Roxie’s name on it or introducing Velma Kelly and her ‘desperation’.

If you ever get the chance to see Chicago on tour, by all means purchase tickets whether you get them up close or far away. It’s a party you defiantly don’t want to miss out on.

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