By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
The musical “Chicago” has been so popular for so long because it’s so naughty.
“It’s an escape,” said Desiree Davar, who plays Velma. “We watch this type of musical because it’s about sex and it’s about murder and it’s about jealousy.
“We can escape and enjoy something like this because it’s so different than anything else, there’s nothing as dark or naughty. And it’s fun to escape.”
Velma and Roxie are the two unforgettable stars of “Chicago,” which Village Theatre has chosen as its blockbuster closer musical for the season.
Audiences like the naughtiness of “Chicago” but also it’s “vaudeville sound,” especially with numbers like “All That Jazz,” “The Cell Block Tango” and “Roxie.”
“It’s the whole spectacle of it, the lighting and our costumes,” Davar said. “I hear from people after who tell me ‘You are doing so much up there, dancing and running around.’
“They are just flabbergasted by our athletic ability and the stamina we have and, frankly, so am I.”
Davar grew up dancing in her mom’s studio in California but now lives in New York. At 5-foot-3, she knew she wouldn’t be a Rockette but took on acting and singing to become the triple threat she is on stage.
Davar recently played Anita in “West Side Story” on Broadway and feels immensely lucky to have landed that Broadway role. Velma was also a dream role of hers, a role she prefers over Roxie.
“It’s closer to my personality,” Davar said. “Of course I’m not going to murder someone but Velma is someone I definitely can relate to.”
Both women are evil; in fact most of the characters in “Chicago” are out for themselves. The story is Roxie’s story and everyone’s involved in it, Davar said.
The tale revolves around women who are in jail accused of murder, Velma and Roxie included. Roxie is accused of shooting her lover, though her husband Amos wants to believe Roxie shot the man because she thought he was a burglar.
Roxie needs a good lawyer and is put in touch with Billy Flynn, who comes up with the story that Roxie and her lover both reached for the gun at the same time and Roxie was trying to protect herself and shot in self-defense.
There’s a trial with a wonderful song-and-dance number starring Flynn, “Razzle Dazzle.” about making the best case you can in front of a jury.
Another number Davar said the audience will particularly enjoy “Roxie,” with Roxie in a blue, sequined dress and a chorus of male dancers.
“There are so many huge numbers in this but people will love ‘Roxie,’ it’s beautiful, stunning. It’s a dream, it is wonderful,” Davar said. “My numbers I’m by myself mostly. Velma is always trying to get someone to come on her side.”
In the end, the two women, who have been at odds through the musical, dance together in “Nowadays, Hot Honey Rag.”
“That final dance — it’s very exciting,” Davar said. “It’s a show-stopper, I think.”
“Chicago” opens at 8 tonight at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Shows are at various times through July 28.
Tickets range from $24 to $63. Go to www.villagetheatre.org or call 425-257-8600.