Saturday at two o’clock, I went to see “Chicago” the musical at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
The musical started out with the piece “All That Jazz.” All of the individual dancing was good; however, collectively it started out clunky and unsynchronized. Additionally, the projected backdrop flickered noticeably. Not a good start. As the number progressed, though, the synchronicity of the dancing improved.
The music and singing were excellent. I had a few personal favorites which included “We Both Reached for the Gun,” sung by Billy Flynn (Scott Gaffen); “Razzle Dazzle,” also sung by Billy; and the finale, sung by Roxie (Blythe Nelson), Velma (Sara Wilemon) and the ensemble.
“We Both Reached for the Gun” was not only brilliant for its performance—Billy held Roxie as a ventriloquist would hold a dummy while answering questions directed towards her—but also for its satire. I found the piece greatly amusing and also saddening, as the two of them acted to fool the press into sympathizing with her.
“Razzle Dazzle” was similarly brilliant. This one satirized how, as a consequence of jurors’ being human, smoke and mirrors were the only necessary requisites to getting someone free. As Billy said, “It’s all a circus, kid. A three ring circus. These trials—the whole world—all show business.” I particularly liked the glitter on Billy’s suit at this point because it demonstrated in a literal way how gilded and superficial the whole ordeal was.
The finale was impressive for its performance overall, with a shocking and exciting confetti blast immediately before the final line of the song. The cast’s singing and dancing of the piece tied the whole musical together well.
But the musical was not always funny and lighthearted.
The innocent Hungarian woman Hunyak (Susan Nodo), who does not speak English, is hanged for murdering her husband. Her shouts of “Not guilty” (perhaps the only English that she knew) were haunting, and I felt nothing but pain and sorrow for her. She was, in the play, the first woman to be hanged in 47 years.
The most impressive performance was the piece “Mister Cellophane,” sung by Amos (David Blakely), Roxie’s husband. As the only self-sacrificing and morally inclined major character in the show, no one ever noticed him. And it was funny at first, until he realized that his wife was just using him. Then he merely appeared heartbroken, and I no longer found it amusing. Blakely played Amos phenomenally.
At one point Roxie made the claim “I love my husband,” and hymns of “Alleluia” were sung, mocking the lack of virtue that Roxie displayed (which is doubly humorous because she and Billy claimed that she was part of a convent for a while).
Overall, I thought that “Chicago” was outstanding despite its rocky start, and would highly recommend that everyone go see it if given the chance. The musical was made by its wonderful music, singing, dancing (after the first number), satire and all that jazz.