I lucked into a free ticket to CHICAGO, but then so many others did too. This performance was full of fans who won free tickets on Facebook. I did not win my ticket on Facebook, but rather someone else did and it was handed off to me, but there I was. I had seen the show twice on the road in Sacramento about twelve years ago and outside of the movie, haven’t thought about the show since. In fact, I would sometimes walk by the Ambassador Theatre and be re-surprised that CHICAGO was still running. This is quite an amazing success story when you consider this is a revival of a show that ran only two years the first time out. This production started as a City Center Encores! concert and is more or less exactly the same as that concert production with the lines memorized. The show is produced in the simplest way and yet it is as chic as a late 1990’s Vogue photo spread––a look that still holds up as sexy. The whole show holds up, even without a star stuck in to boost ticket sales. The low maintanence of the production accounts for some of its longevity.
Right now there is “nobody” in it. There is, however, a cast of talented people, most of whom have been in and out of the show for years––on the tour, Broadway and playing it in London. Bianca Marroquin as Roxy comes from the Mexico production originally and Leigh Zimmerman as Velma was in the opening night cast as “Kitty.” Zimmerman is long and fierce, is a beautiful dancer of the Fosse style and can really belt out her numbers. It took me a bit to warm up to Marroquin, but eventually found her to be quite clever and delighted in the way she found new original ways to deliver the old lines. Although she is short of stature, Marroquin kept up with Zimmerman all the way with high kicks and tremendous energy. Colman Domingo, lately from SCOTTSBORO BOYS, has taken over Billy Flynn. He may not be inspired, but he keeps the entertainment going. LaVon Fisher-Wilson tears it up as “Mama” Mortan and R. Lowe’s drag soprano is truly amazing for Mary Sunshine. The show is in top form, though it doesn’t seem nearly as fresh and exciting as it did a decade ago. A few of the long term chorus boys have put on a few pounds and are doughier than their revealing costumes allow. As a group, the chorus is not nearly as ferocious as they once were.
In the audience of this special performance were past cast members Chita Rivera, Uta Lemper and director Walter Bobbie. Seth Rudeski hosted a pre-show giveaway of prizes and everyone walked away with a t-shirt. This was the kind of performance where the songs received applause at the beginning of the numbers as well as the end. A theater full of devoted fans is not a bad crowd with which to pay another visit to CHICAGO!