Theater review: ‘Chicago’Written by Chad Meredith | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Stranahan Theatre’s latest production of “Chicago” was humorous and unsettling. In this musical, Roxie Hart (Bianca Marroquin), a woman who dreams of headlining her own vaudeville show, murders her lover and is sent to jail. Once there, Roxie meets her idol, Velma Kelly (Terra C. MacLeod), and discovers that the press and the legal system are nothing more than “razzle dazzle” for the public. It was created by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and John Kander.
Terra C. Macleod’s talent was instantly recognized. Her toned body, meticulous pronunciation and control over her dancing made Velma a force to be reckoned with. In “All That Jazz,” Macleod put a burly accent on the word “brawl.” This accent made Velma appear to be experimenting with a song she had performed many times. It also made the audience feel like they were sitting in the song’s “noisy hall,” watching a professional entertainer.
Bianca Marroquin made the audience fall in love with a murderess. Marroquin’s enthusiasm made the audience share Roxie’s excitement upon seeing her name in the newspaper. Marroquin’s innocent-sounding, light-hearted voice in “Roxie” made it difficult to remember that Roxie was a murderess. As Roxie turned down Velma’s desperate plea for a two-woman show, Marroquin’s snide tone made the audience chuckle.
Carol Woods’s operatic voice gave Matron Mamma Morton great fervor. In “When You’re Good to Mama,” Woods held the word “you” and pointed to the audience. This gesture disturbingly broke the fourth wall. It also sent the message that the prison system has become corrupt. The focused expression in Woods’ eyes accentuated the seriousness of this message.
Instead of having a conventional set, there was simply a large box on center stage in which a live orchestra played. Director Walter Bobbie stated that this set is intended to “reflect Chicago’s themes of entrapment … The characters in Chicago are trapped-either in prison or in the legal system, or trapped by their own fame, lust, greed, and ambition. Likewise, our cast is trapped on stage, the orchestra confined in an exaggerated jury box.”
“Chicago” is a satire about our culture’s obsession with true murder stories and the pursuit of fame at any cost. When “Chicago” first premiered in 1975, it was received as being too dark and cynical. To see how prophetic this musical is, one need only look at a newsstand. The cast and tech crew proved that their audience is no different than the audience “Chicago” criticizes.