Arts and Entertainment

'Chicago' brings a little more Razzle Dazzle to Village Theatre stage

Taryn Darr as Roxie Hart - Jay Koh, Village Theatre/Contributed photo
Taryn Darr as Roxie Hart
— image credit: Jay Koh, Village Theatre/Contributed photo

There's a certain level of expectation that comes with putting on a musical that's already established itself around the world. Especially if said musical currently stands as the second longest running production on Broadway. And if the stage version has called on some of the biggest and best names in show biz to fill it's roles. Even more so, if it was made in to an Oscar-award winning movie.

Those expectations seemed to reach new heights on Thursday, May 9, when the Village Theatre opened its last production for the 2012-1013 season, "Chicago."

Originally adapted into a musical by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, "Chicago" tells the story of femme fatales Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart as they navigate the corrupt justice system in prohibition-era Chicago. The result? Sassy ladies, fast-talking fellas and lots of laughs.

If you've ever seen "Chicago" on Broadway - you'll notice the stripped down approach of its production. Broadway's "Chicago" relies heavily on the performers to provide the pizazz in the show. The stage is simple, the costumes lean on the simpler side - black on black on black - and the focus is the music. But keeping it simple is not the mantra for this production.

While the plot remains the same, and the musical numbers remain at the forefront, Village Theatre's production more closely follows the tradition of Rob Marshall's big screen adaption - and adds lots more aesthetic pizazz: bedazzled dresses, feathers and lots of color.

In addition to flashy costumes, this production - directed by Steve Tompkins and featuring additional choreography by Kristin Holland - embraces the over-indulgence of the Roaring 20s on all levels - including the acting. This idea is best characterized in Taryn Darr's Roxie Hart and Timothy McCuen Piggee's Billy Flynn.

In every sense of the word, Darr's Roxie is more: more ditzy, more sassy, more flashy. And for the most part it is great entertainment. Piggee's turn as Flynn, the slick-tongued lawyer whose main loves are money and women follows suit.

Already known as two of the flashiest numbers of the show, Piggee's vocal bombast and showmanship bring "Razzle Dazzle" and "All I Care About Is Love" to the next level, a performance only made larger by the glittery ensemble.

And then there's Ryan P. McCabe as Mary Sunshine and Shaunyce Omar as Matron Mama Morton: scene stealers every time they take the stage.

The thing about "Chicago" is that as long as you stick to the general script, you're safe. People don't want surprises with this one. They want the glitz and glamour they've come to know and love. Thankfully, Village Theatre delivers all that jazz - and just the right amount of a little bit more.

'Chicago' plays through June 29 at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front Street N, Issaquah; and July 5 – July 28 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Avenue Everett. Tickets available now ($24-63) at the Village Theatre Box Office or HERE.
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