Chicago (The SOB Revisit) - Ambassador Theatre, New York, NY
**** (out of ****)
If Bebe Neuwirth
could return to Broadway's current longest-running revival, I decided I could, too. So over the past weekend, I made my way back to Chicago
. What a trip!
I had no doubt that Neuwirth would make the journey worthwhile, but I truly expected the musical to show its age. Far from it. That the entire experience still rocks and excites is a huge credit to Walter Bobbie
's exquisite direction, which received a very well-deserved Tony.
It doesn't hurt that John Lee Beatty
's ingeniously spare set design is also stripped down to the bare essentials. It sharpens the focus on the performances by the nimble, agile cast, including exceptional ensemble members. Of course, with William Ivey Long
's sexy costume design, it's impossible to take your eyes off of them.
While the tuner has become infamous in recent years for practically writing the book on shameless stunt-casting, the only real novelty in the production today is that its original Velma Kelly is now portraying Roxie Hart through March 25. But there was never any doubt Neuwirth could pull it off and make it look so beautiful, funny and effortless. The question in my mind was whether the rest of the cast could keep up.
Because the current cast is now filled with solid pros -- like veteran Brenda Braxton
as Velma Kelly, Rob Bartlett
who's returned as Amos Hart, Roz Ryan
as "Mama" Morton, R. Lowe
as Mary Sunshine and Philip Casnoff
as Billy Flynn -- audiences are guaranteed an excellent show by troupers who more than hold their own opposite Neuwirth. In fact, Bartlett was perhaps the biggest surprise with his tender, nuanced turn as the nebbish Amos; mining the absolute depths of this supposedly see-through character, he brought a tear to my eye.
Suffice to say that I wouldn't hesitate to strongly recommend a return visit to anyone who has seen Chicago before -- in fact, I was half-tempted to take in the next performance.
And for anyone who has only seen the movie, you owe it to yourself to see the live stage show the way it was really meant to be performed. At least for now, you have the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, make the journey!
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Click here for tickets.
Labels: Bebe Neuwirth, Broadway, Chicago The Musical, Musical, Revival, Stunt Casting, The SOB Revisit