The sweet, satisfying melodies of trumpets and trombones lured many Kansas Citians into a time machine Friday night, taking them back nearly a century, where women were fearless and stereotypes were broken –“The Roaring 20’s of Chicago”.
After 40 years, the six-time, award-winning classic hit, “Chicago” returned to Starlight’s stage on Sept. 14. Barry and Fran Weissler produced America’s longest running musical on Broadway with the help of music by John Kander.
The musical revolves around the main character, the rebel housewife Roxie Hart who is put on trial for the murder of her lover. Her character’s personality is quirky and innocent, which was surprising after “maliciously” murdering a man for threatening to leave her.
Her “greasy” lawyer, Billy Flynn’s head is full of potential headlines, greed and fame. Other main characters were Roxie’s oblivious husband, Amos, her confident yet intimidating cellmate, Velma and her matron and mentor, Mama Morton.
The musical definitely incorporated this era’s history. “Chicago” is based off real crimes women committed in the 1920’s. It emphasized the importance of women wanting to feel acknowledged among society, even when it’s something as brutal as being the headline of a newspaper for committing murder.
The chemistry among the cast of “Chicago” was seamless. They stepped into their characters and stayed that way until the theatre was empty. The odd humor throughout the play was interesting when the topics of the musical (murder and affairs) are taken more seriously in everyday life.
As black lace and fishnets flowed across the stage with poise and confidence, followed by the splits, the jazz music helped create this simple yet lively atmosphere of Chicago in the 1920’s.
The level of the orchestra’s volume on stage could have been increased to help embrace the overall essence of the musical. There was a healthy balance of solos, duets and choruses; however, the solos persisted longer than needed.
All members of “Chicago’s” cast had astounding voices. The control over their vocal cords, from high pitch to deep grit, illuminated the emotion people felt during this era. They were accompanied by moans, snaps, whispers and footsteps, enhancing the auditory storytelling of this risqué musical.
“Chicago” nailed the music right on the head, however, the set design could have been made more powerful. There were no clear props or furniture to determine the setting of each act which made the story line a bit hard to follow.
Overall, the visuals of the play were classy and simple. The entire cast wore black, and there were little to no special effects except toward the end of the musical. The musical definitely could have used a little “razzle dazzle” as far as making the musical more visually compelling.
Starlight’s “Chicago” ran one weekend only from Sept. 14-16. For more information on Starlight’s upcoming productions visit https://www.kcstarlight.com/events.