“Chicago” Razzle Dazzles the Crowd

By Mara Shapiro

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Students and staff alike stroll into the Robert L. Johnson Auditorium laughing, talking, and searching for seats. More chatter ensues until the lights dim and it is time to start the show.  “Chicago” begins with Velma Kelly, senior Julia Zasso, in her sparkly black dress singing “All That Jazz” as the cast dances and sings in unison behind her. Then, the real fun begins.

Roxie Hart (senior Rachel Flink), a chorus girl who works at the local club, has been fooling around on her boring, hum-drum mechanic husband Amos(senior Aaron Ruderman).  Her lover, Fred (senior Jason Magel) decides to end the affair, but Roxie isn’t having any of that, so she shoots and murders him, all the while saying that Fred was an intruder and that she only killed him in self defense. Of course Amos figures out that Fred was a local furniture salesman, and while confronting Roxie in front of a cop, she blabs out the whole truth, thus sending her to jail. Roxie asks Amos what she should do in a pitiful voice, and Amos rudely mocks her, much to the audiences amusement.

While Roxie prepares for jail, one of the most famous “Chicago” songs, “Cell Block Tango,” is performed, in which a group of murderesses in prison  tell the tales about how they killed their significant others. The girls dance crisply with black chairs as they sing about men running into knives ten times or not being able to hold their arsenic. I’m sure more than a few men were made a bit uncomfortable by the anger the women were projecting. Of course, former vaudeville star Velma is one of these women, who talks about how she caught her husband and sister in bed together. Velma is the head woman at the jail, the apple of the corrupt matron, Mama’s (senior Rachel Prale) eye. She pays Mama and Mama makes phone calls to try to get Velma back to the top. When Roxie comes to jail, the two women spar instantly until they decide that they need each other after all. In the mix, attention seeking lawyer, Billy Flynn(senior Steven Czajkowski), helps to get the women free, even coming up with an elaborate plan that involves Roxie faking a pregnancy.

The musical was fantastic. The sparkly flapper costumes were beautiful, and the singing and dancing were spot on. Every time a number ended, the audience eagerly clamored to clap as loudly as possible. From the trials and errors of rehearsal, the finished product was a hundred times better. The hard work and dedication really paid off.  There were funny scenes, such as Roxie complaining about Amos’ lack of bedroom skills, Billy calling Mama “butch”or Velma and Roxie singing about how they are two examples of what a wonderful country America was because they got away with murder. Though I loved “All That Jazz,” I would have to say that my three favorite songs were “Razzle Dazzle” because of the choreography and acrobatics, “Class” because Prale and Zasso’s complaints about society were hilarious and their faces when they lamented “holy crap” made the audience burst out in laughter, and “We Both Reached for the Gun” because Czajkowski’s impression of a woman’s voice as his character treated Roxie like a puppet was hilarious. And as for Ruderman, who had previously stated that he had troubles with his character, sure garnered a lot of “aws” from the crowd when he was constantly kicked to the curb by Billy and Roxie. This was a wonderful production, and the cast, crew, pit, pit director William Koch, choreographer and English teacher Patti-Anne Davis, and theatre director Andrew Sinclair  all did a job well done.