NYC Theatre: Broadway is Back and Chicago is Superb

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Chicago, a staple at New York City's Ambassador Theater for twenty-five years, recently raised the curtain to once again dazzle audiences with its 1920s tale of murder, passion, and adultery, all set to jazzy sounds and sultry moves.

With tickets in hand, I arrived at the Ambassador Theater, on Broadway, thirty minutes before showtime and realized the line to have your vaccination card and identification checked had already extended to the end of the block. It moved quickly with the Covid team checking all documents and explaining restrictions on attendance mandated by the Coronavirus required all attendees to wear a mask at all times.

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Soon, the house was full, the lights were dimming, and the jazzy sounds of the 1920s Chicago speakeasy band filled the theater. To begin the story of Roxie Hart, the Emcee explained to the audience what they were about to experience: A tale of passion, jealousy, rage, murder, lust, and fame.

With that the company took to the stage. Chicago, for those who don't know, is a musical set in the classic Bob Fosse style with sizzling choreography, finger snapping, bowler hats, and scanty black costumes, and a story told though song and dance.

Set in the legendary city during the roaring "jazz hot" 20s, Chicago tells the story of two rival vaudevillian murderesses.

Ambitious chorus girl Roxie Hart, played by Ana Villafane, sets the stage as she murders her lover and is sent to the Cook County Jail. The show centers on the women who are in prison for murdering their lovers and is highlighted with the number "Cell Block Tango" which features Velma Kelly, played by Bianca Marroquin, and the female cast.

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As the story goes Velma Kelly, is awaiting her trial date for killing her husband and sister after finding the two in bed together, when Roxie Hart knocks her off the front page and becomes the media darling. The Matron, played by Lillias White, also known as "Mama" delights the audiences with her blues version of "When You're Good to Mama."

Throughout the story we meet the slick lawyer Billy Flynn, played by Paulo Szot, who like Roxie, is in it for the media attention. And the media loves Roxie, a crime of passion suddenly becomes "We both reached for the gun" as Billy Flynn works to save Roxie from the death penalty.

With Roxie and Velma each trying to see past the jury verdict to the hopeful future, they realize as Velma sings, "I Can't Do It Alone."

After the intermission, Amos Hart, played by Raymond Bokhour, who Roxie really didn't love but married him as a safe choice, sings "Mr. Cellophane Man," expressing his belief that he is invisible, and no one sees or cares.

As Roxie knocked Velma off the front page and became the new media darling, at the end of the second act we see Roxie being replaced by even greater sensationalism.

Broadway is back and Chicago is superb! Sizzling choreography, dazzling, show-stopping tunes! Chicago Packs the House Dazzling Audiences!

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The Chicago orchestra is conducted by Rob Bowman, with Scott Shachter, Jack Stuckey, Bruce Williamson, Glenn Drewes, Earl Gardner, Bruce Bonvissuto, James Burton III, Scott Cady, Sue Anschutz, Jay Berliner, Scott Thornton Marshall Coid and Ronald Zito.

The pandemic sideline Broadway on March 13, 2020, when as the story is written, the Playbill presses, which had published through the Spanish Flu, two World Wars, the Great Depression and the September 11, 2001, attacks were stopped, indefinitely.

Broadway is slowing beginning to come alive again eighteen months later and The Great White Way is once again pulsating with life.

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*Image courtesy of Janet Walker.

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