Durham Performing Arts Center’s production of Chicago opens with a snazzy rendition of “All That Jazz,” featuring knee-swinging choreography re-created by Gary Chryst, sultry costumes by William Ivey Long, and too many beautiful people to count. The fast-paced opening number effectively sets the tone for the rest of this fabulously fun show.
Each of the twenty-one musical numbers glides along effortlessly, drawing the viewer into the crooked world of Prohibition-era Chicago, a world in which Roxie Hart (Bianca Marroquin for the opening-night performance) has killed her lover and now awaits trial (making time to chase a little fame in the interim).Major crowd-pleasing numbers include a feisty, funny “Cell Block Tango,” filled with sensuous dance moves; a rousing, energy-enthused “When You’re Good to Mama,” and an unforgettable “Razzle Dazzle,” complete with floating sequins and the brightest of bright lights.
Christie Brinkley was set to play the role of Roxie, but was unable to due to illness. Her noticeable absence is made much less noticeable by the wonderful and fresh-from-Broadway Marroquin. She turns Roxie into the sweetest, most loveable murderer around and really knows how to command a stage. Whether Roxie is joking with the orchestra or playing puppet to slimy lawyer Billy Flynn (Tony Yazbeck), Marroquin displays excellent comedic timing and all the right moves. The other major roles are done well, particularly Roz Ryan’s commanding portrayal of “Mama” and Amra-Faye Wright’s always legendary Velma, but no one can hold a candle to this endearing, raven-haired performer.
This is Chicago the way it should always be done—big, bold, and pulling out all the stops! Whether Brinkley will be able to take the stage at DPAC is yet unknown, but no matter what, this is not a show to miss!