Chicago Review: All that jazz

A line of sultry female dancers in thin black tights and skimpy costumes sing and dance in wooden chairs for the “Cell Block Tango” a song that narrates how these murderesses finish in jail. The performance is one of the twenty-two performances of Chicago the musical that closed its U.S. tour at Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.

Perfectly toned singers and talented musicians bring to life the musical that takes place in Chicago during the 1920s. Terra C. MacLeod portrays Velma Kelly, a cabaret dancer who killed her husband when she found out he cheated on her. Bianca Marroquin portrays Roxie Hart a chorus girl who killed her lover. Hart like Kelly envision fame and fortune. Now that they are in jail together sentenced to death row for murder, they compete of who would be the most popular on the papers.

Marroquin sings with a powerful voice and acts with natural charisma. Her dialogues include jokes that keep the audience engage in the development of the story.

In this version, sets are minimal and lighting is used to create different scenarios. The jazz band plays on the stage during the entire performance.

The grand finale is Kelly and Hart’s moment of fame. After they got out of jail and became old news, they choreographed an act together for their big return. In this last part of the play, you would imagine them wearing glamours costumes. Instead, they wear black dresses with a black cardigan, silver shoes, hat, and cane. They look elegant, but their costumes do not look like they are from the 1920s.

When you hear Chicago the Broadway Musical, you imagine a big production with cabaret lights, shiny costumes, and a variety of sets. It may also bring to mind the Academy Award winning film with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere. In the last scene of the movie, Jones and Zellweger wear stunning silver costumes classic of the 1920s.

Producers may want to differentiate the movie from the play by focusing more on the story and music, but a little bit of visual spark would create a more attractive performance.

Shania Winston, SF State student, who has seen the movie many times, said she would like to see more dancing in the play.

“I don’t feel they chose singers and dancers, they just chose singers,” Shania said, referring to the producers of the musical. “I think is great to have a good voice, but the whole point of this play is to have dancers because that’s everything they want to do they want to be a star, they want to be dancers.”