"Chicago" will make you grateful for Village Theatre, director Steve Tomkins and live musical theater. It's a fantastic show, a must-see for a lot of reasons.
First, it's one of those iconic musicals like "West Side Story" or "The Music Man." When asked if you've seen "Chicago," your answer better be "yes," otherwise your street cred as a theater-goer is highly suspect.
Another reason to see "Chicago" is its jazzy, Vaudeville-infused musical score (music direction by Tim Symmons), which does a lot of the heavy lifting in this show that has little dialogue.
Another reason: Its oh, so flawless, so polished and so dynamic dance numbers (choreography by Kristin Holland). You almost don't know where to look but let me pause here to tell you that if Velma Kelly is on stage, look in her direction.
Kelly is played by Desiree Davar. It's cheesy to say that the stage could not contain this woman but Davar used every inch and then leapt up on a table or a chair to add surface. This woman could kick so high and with such snap it was hard to believe she wasn't dislocating something. Her upper body is so sculpted that she looks like she does pull-ups for a hobby.
In one particularly marvelous number, Davar appears to be translating Egyptian hieroglyphics with her upper body and arms. What she produces is so precise and so well executed that you can't turn your eyes away.
Velma and Roxie Hart, played by Village Theatre veteran Taryn Darr, are the two female stars in this naughty story about sex, murder, treachery and all those elements of the dark side of life.
It's really Roxie's story, and Velma and several other murderesses are caught up in it. These women are all awaiting trial but Roxie is stealing the headlines because of her charms.
Those charms come across loud and clear in such musical numbers as the dazzling "Roxie" as she dances with her "boys" in a blue sequined dress.
Other classic "Chicago" tunes include "All That Jazz," "Cell Block Tango" and "Razzle Dazzle."
"Razzle Dazzle" really highlighted the talents of Timothy McCuen Piggee, who plays defense attorney Billy Flynn. He's a triple-threat performer if there ever was one -- a handsome, beautifully voiced man who can dance and act. That might be more than three.
Piggee's performance in "All I Care About" might steal your heart and he might have the funniest line in the whole show with "If I was representing Jesus Christ, you know things would have turned out much differently."
Another standout is poor, put- upon Amos, Roxie's husband who is played with wonderful pathos by Richard Gray. His solo, "Mr. Cellophane," is poignant but made unsappy by some clever lighting tricks (scenic and lighting designer by Tom Sturge).
As director Steve Tomkins said in the program notes, "Despite its dark view of life and complete amorality of murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, their struggles to achieve the American dream resonates with audiences."
These are pretty rotten people and yet we want them to win at trial, get out of jail and pursue their goals. These women don't want to be brain surgeons or teachers. Roxie and Velma just want their own song and dance act. We see their talent and we want that for them, too.
At the end of "Chicago" you'll be thrilled, grateful and rooting for the bad girls.
"Chicago" plays at various times through July 28 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett.
Tickets range from $24 to $63. Go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-257-8600.
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