Chicago

Chicago is and always has been the height of dark comedy. It is a depressing, cynical look at the world that somehow manages to make you smile and laugh rather than sadden you. Never has this been truer than in the Guild’s recent production. I must confess that when I first heard that it was the Guild who was doing Chicago, I raised an eyebrow. It seemed strange to use such a small stage for such a gigantic play. However two songs in, my doubts had completely evaporated. The play follows Roxie Hart, an adulterous murderer who only regrets her crime as she realizes its consequences. She is sent to prison, but gets help from the immoral lawyer, Billy Flynn. My only major criticism is that the first song, “All That Jazz,” is sung a bit too quietly and the music drowns it out, but in the later songs this ceases to be a problem. Rebecca Whitcher does a fantastic job as Roxie Hart, showing the character’s inner cynicism and desperate need for attention. In fact, it is particularly impressive that she manages to make this character so intimidating despite her rather angelic face. The contrast between her appearence and demeanor makes the character seem even more dangerous than she already is. Roxie is contrasted by the glamorous Velma Kelly, played extremely well by Emma Hanes. Velma is a character who breathes vaudeville and she does a fantastic job of portraying this. In fact, it is when the two actresses meet onstage that the play really lights up, thanks to the fantastic rivalry the two characters engage in. Kaori Torigai is on stage in a Guild production for the first time and she handles it like a pro. Her potrayal of Matron Mama Morton is extremely intimidating the way she belts out her first song “If You’re Good to Mama” really captures the essence of the character. James mcCullough gives a wonderful performance as magnificently immoral deliciously devilish Billy Flynn everything about his performance drips with the characters immorality mixed with pure charm. The naive Mary sunshine is played by Elaine Schiman gives an extremely funny performance as one of the only two decent characters in the play. Ely Boivin sings fantastically as the beleaguered Amos. He also makes an interesting choice with the character actually showing a bit of bitterness which is an interesting choice. I personally think that it makes the character somewhat less sad than the normally apologetic character but on the other hand he also makes the character seem much more real while still capturing the traits that make him so relatable rounding out the cast is Jennifer Duncombe as the sarcastic emcee giving a great performance as she draws us into the seedy world of the play and Winluck Wong who plays many minor roles and is particularly impressive as a one man jury. Chicago is a terrific show and is not to be missed under any circumstance except perhaps to cover up a brutal murder that you’ve committed.

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