The Golden Apple pays another visit to that wicked city, Chicago.
By Kay Kipling
The story of the merry murderesses of Chicago has had more lives than a cat, it seems. From 1920s silent film and stage versions to a 1940s film with Ginger Rogers to the award-winning 2002 movie musical version, with several stage interpretations along the way, we just can’t get enough of killers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly.
The rendition most familiar to us these days is certainly the Fosse-Kander-Ebb collaboration that bowed in the 1970s and has been in a revival production in New York for more than 10 years. It’s nice to see that in this case, crime does pay.
The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre has presented Chicago before, to some acclaim, so it’s perhaps natural for the company to bring it back, with crucial members of the cast of several seasons ago returning. That includes Charlene Clark as Velma, Jillian Godfrey as Roxie, and Michael Bajjaly as Roxie’s sad sack husband, Amos, along with Roberta MacDonald as prison matron Mama Morton. All four perform with gusto and deliver the punch their respective characters are supposed to; if their acting and dancing (the latter in the cases especially of the impressive Clark and Godfrey) are superior to their vocal skills, that’s not a huge drawback in a Fosse musical, where the dominance of the dance numbers is so obvious from the opener, All That Jazz.
The big finale of the Golden Apple’s Chicago.
The leads have some good support from the ensemble cast, strong on the ever effective Cell Block Tango, the comic ventriloquist number, We Both Reached for the Gun, and When Velma Takes the Stand, among others. And Dewayne Barrett’s choreography is sharp and snappy, just as it should be.
The newcomer to this production is Bill Hayes as lawyer Billy Flynn, who takes on anybody’s case as long as they have $5,000. Veteran actor Hayes, now in his 80s, is certainly older than most performers who’ve played this role, and his dance movements on production numbers are limited. He’s likable but rather subdued at times for a flamboyant criminal attorney whose stock in trade is Razzle Dazzle.
Overall, though, this Chicago is anything but subdued. In fact, if the most recent memory of the show you carry in your mind is the 2002 film, you may be a bit taken aback here. This production has none of those more somber tones; in fact, by the time Roxie’s trial takes place in Act II, the comic action feels too broad and prolonged even for a show that was never about being subtle.
Still, the survivor instincts of Velma, Roxie and the show itself will doubtless carry Chicagoalong for this current run, through July 6. For ticket info call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.