The Broadway Review: Chicago


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Date Seen: Friday, April 11, 2014
Seating: Row 5, Rear Mezzanine
Cost of Tickets: FREE!
Ticket Source: AEMIN Trivia Contest
Rating: Neutral
A true New York City institution, CHICAGO has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another; and the most astonishing dancing you've ever seen.

No wonder CHICAGO has been honored with 6 Tony Awards®, 2 Olivier Awards®, a Grammy® and thousands of standing ovations.

It's also no surprise that CHICAGO has wowed audiences all around the world, from Mexico City to Moscow, from Sao Paulo to South Africa.

Whether you're looking for your first Broadway musical, whether you've seen the Academy Award®-winning film and want to experience the show live on stage or whether you've seen it before and want to recapture the magic, CHICAGO always delivers.
~*~Journey to the Tickets~*~

I know...you're probably look up there and thinking to yourself, "AEMIN? What's that?" Well, I'll tell you what it is! AEMIN stands for Arts & Entertainment Management Industry Network. At my college we have a major called Arts & Entertainment Management for those who want to go into such a field without being a performer. This Industry Network is obviously our school's network with the industry. To launch it's new social media pages and to make the word known of it's creation, they ran a three day contest for 18 free tickets to any student (whether they have this major or not).

You had to be able to finish song lyrics, which I happily spammed on twitter and probably annoyed a lot of you with, or answer questions about the cast and creation of when CHICAGO first made its Broadway debut in 1975. Oddly enough, I won my free ticket because I knew that CHICAGO made its debut in 1975. How did I know that? I honestly don't know, but I did!

So, if you want free or heavily discounted show tickets and want to be part of the arts and entertainment industry without being a performer, hit up Pace University!

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This show had a lot of good things and a few bad things that unfortunately overrode the good things. If you want my honest opinion, go into the show with a blind eye. By sheer circumstance I happened to watch the movie CHICAGO exactly a week before I saw the show and I think that hurt it in my eyes. I think the movie was slightly better, but the show is also very different. If you go in without expectations it may be doubly more enjoyable. 

I suppose the best place to start is with the characters. Roxie was so perfect. The actress that played Roxie was beyond talented and drop-dead gorgeous and she was Roxie. Adorable, stupid, naive, starry-eyed Roxie Hart. I also really loved Amos. He reminded me of a clean cut Tramp (played by Charlie Chaplin) with a sweater-vest and no bowler hat or mustache. I also really enjoyed Billy Flynn. Not only did he have the looks, but he had major talent. He, too, embodied Billy Flynn, the lawyer willing to do anything to make a little bit of money, very well. The ensemble was absolutely superb and Mary Sunshine has a set of pipes that is unparalleled. The drag queen in the show was damn good too, but you'd have to see the show to figure out who that is!

As for Velma and Mama...ouch. Velma, to put it simply, was too old. This woman while very talented was very clearly Velma about ten years ago which makes sense since she's been playing Velma since 2001. Velma, in my eyes, is supposed to be the sexy show-stealer and while this woman was very sexy for her age, the entire ensemble and Roxie were sexier then her. The age different was very visible. And Mama...oh, Mama. I love Mama's character and I was not pleased. While she had a set of pipes and made a lot of jokes (thanks to the script), I really did not like this actress. She was stationary. In her big song she could have strutted around the stage and showed sass, instead she literally stood in one place the entire time and kept pointing around wildly. Queen Latifah was a bigger woman who owned that damn stage in the movie and this actress simply could not. She was very slow when moving and either stood still or sat still the entire time.

It was really nice to see some new songs in this show that aren't in the movie, but few of the performances left me truly breathless. My absolute favorite performance was Both Reached for the Gun. I went in expecting this because it's one of my favorite performances in the movie, but myself and several of the people I was with agreed that this was the best performance of the night. Another enjoyable one was Roxie not only because of the singing but because the actress playing Roxie Hart had so many great antics in this one. She has a beautiful singing voice and speaking voice, but when she's joking around she gets this really deep and entertaining voice full of accents that totally appeal to the audience. She knew how to work us and she sure did! Amos's only song, Mister Cellophane, was applaud worthy and Mary Sunshine's operatic voice in her few bits was mind-boggling. 

Otherwise, the songs were simply satisfying. I think this was partially due to sound issues. See, the set-up on the stage is that the orchestra is actually on the stage for our viewing pleasure. The show takes place in front of it and throughout it since there are staircases and entrances and the exits are off to the sides. The instrumentals often overpowered the singing and if there were two people singing at once, you'd be lucky if you could make out one of them. I don't know if this is attributed to poor sound quality or the fact that acoustics may not be as good in the rear mezzanine, but I think they need to make certain microphones more powerful and certain microphones less powerful.

I was so excited to see this show because of the vaudeville aspect of it. The dancing was perfect, straight out of Classic Broadway, as was the exaggerated hand movements and speaking to the audience. They interacted with us through their characters and it made it enjoyable. But I can't say I loved this show, and I think my experience was slightly diminished because I went in with such high expectations. Don't do that like I did and you'll love it so much more. Several of the people that I was with that have not seen the movie for a while would have given this show one thumb up. At this point, I simply can't. I'll have to sleep on it.

Tentative half a thumb up though! Too bad that rating doesn't exist on this specific scale.

Have a good day, guys! And remember, stay away from jazz and liquor!

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Read my other Broadway Reviews here!

To learn more about CHICAGO, check out the musical's website here.

Please note: this is a new feature dependent on audience feedback about whether you want me to continue it or not.

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