Drury Lane CHICAGO Review – A Windy City Jazz Classic

The curtain rises.

A platform sits high above the stage.

Stacks and stacks of newspapers are all around.

As the overture begins, so does the chorus of reporters running around mimicking the frenzied atmosphere of a newsroom. It draws our attention to the center spotlight where the energy stills and the one and only Velma Kelly rises from the floor. The familiar opening bars of “All That Jazz” play and CHICAGO is off to a silky smooth and rousing start.

Drury Lane’s Making a Celebrity Criminal

Based on real crimes reported in the 1920s, CHICAGO draws its inspiration from the media sensationalizing murderous women. They became celebrity criminals and created our leading ladies - Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. For the moment, Velma’s sensational double homicide is on the front page. However, when Roxie is arrested for murdering her lover, claiming self defense, her name takes top billing.

With her run of the jailhouse,“Mama” Morton takes advantage of the rise in these women’s popularity. She connects them with the best lawyer in town, Billy Flynn, who has never not won a case. It becomes a tug of war vying for Billy’s attention and the proposed fame that comes with it. Eventually Roxie wins and gets her trial and spotlight once again.

But as quickly as fame comes, it disappears just the same. Even though she’s done everything right, by the end Roxie is once again overshadowed by a more sensational murder case. Luckily, though they’ve both been left in the dust, Velma and Roxie team up and form their own spectacular duo to keep chasing that ever elusive fame.

Drury Lane CHICAGO
Alena Watters as Velma Kelly and the ensemble of CHICAGO Photo: Brett Beiner Photography
Drury Lane CHICAGO
Guy Lockard as Billy Flynn and the ensemble of CHICAGO Photo: Brett Beiner Photography

Bright Lights and Even Brighter Stars

CHICAGO’s brightness extends to the set, costumes, and cast. The set design by Kevin Depinet focuses on how news is a central element to CHICAGO. It is wonderfully executed along with the dazzling brightly lit back wall.

The costumes by Sully Ratke, in all their vaudevillian glory, accentuate the sparkling personalities of the cast. The leading ladies, Kelly Felthous and Alena Watters playing Roxie and Velma, respectively, are absolute dynamite. Felthous has an infectious desire for fame and plays up Roxie’s inflated ego. Watters astounds us with her jazz stylings and our focus is drawn to her cunningness every time she’s onstage.

CHICAGO is a show that will always feel choppy due to its vaudeville nature - each song becoming a separate “act” in the production. Unlike the most recent production that passed through Chicago last year, Drury Lane plays to the vaudeville style without losing the cohesiveness of the story. This production flows well as we follow each character from Guy Lockard as Billy Flynn, to E. Faye Butler as Mama, to the ladies of the Cook County jail. The entire cast elevates the music and keep us engaged.

While there’s nothing that’s truly groundbreaking about this timeless musical, it will fill all of your CHICAGO needs if you’re a fan.

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Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.'

Drury Lane CHICAGO
E. Faye Butler as Matron Mama Morton Photo: Brett Beiner Photography
Drury Lane CHICAGO
Kelly Felthous as Roxy Hart Photo: Brett Beiner Photography
Drury Lane CHICAGO
The cast of CHICAGO Photo: Brett Beiner Photography

When

Now through June 18th
Wednesdays: 1:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 1:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays: 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.(except June 18)

Where

Drury Lane Theatre
100 Drury Lane
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181

 

 

Tickets

$43-$58
630.530.0111, TicketMaster at 800.745.3000 or visit the Drury Lane Theatre website

Photos

Brett Beiner Photography

 

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.

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