Monday, July 31, 2006

Chicago Reviews

Several reviews have been posted for Chicago at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. I'm really excited about seeing this show, but I won't be going until next Sunday. Previously on Chicago: Interview with Kat & On the Subject of Chicago ... Locally

"Chicago"...In a Little Place Called Rhinebeck from When Escape is Not an Option blog

'Chicago': An Over-Sexed Romp Through the Roaring 20s from

From the Woodstock Times: (Thanks Kat)

"Razzle-dazzling Chicago in Rhinebeck

Up In One Productions has done it again. Directors Diana di Grandi and Laurie Sepe Marder along with a fabulous cast of community players, including a handful of professionals, have mounted a superb production of Bob Fosse's hard-edged, sexy musical, Chicago, at The Center For Performing Arts in Rhinebeck. Last weekend's performances were sold out so reserve your seats soon if you want to catch this high-energy show before it closes August 13th.

Steamy and sardonic, Chicago is a refreshing departure from the traditional family fare usually offered at The Center For Performing Arts. The show, based on Maurine Dallas Watkin's play set in late 1920's Chicago, was Fosse's baby. Not only did the celebrated choreographer direct and choreograph the musical stage version, he also collaborated on the book with Fred Ebb (who wrote the lyrics to John Kander's music). Chicago opened on Broadway in 1975 with Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon as Velma and Roxie (two murderesses that capitilize on their celebrity status with the press to promote their careers) and Jerry Ohrbach as Billy Flynn (their hotshot lawyer). Nominated for 13 Tony awards in 1976, only the lighting designer actually won. Perhaps Fosse's cynical exploration of society's dark side was ahead of his time.

Since dancing plays such a crucial role in Chicago (this is Fosse after all) I wondered whether the cast and choreographer would be up to the rigorous demands of the show. Generally speaking, it's easier to find talented actors and singers than dancers when casting community theater.

Choreographer Laurie Sepe Marder, who has done such marvelous work in other productions at The Center, pulled out all the stops with Chicago. Recreating Fosse's signature movement style, she has assembled a large troupe of talented attractive singers/dancers - male and female - who not only move well, they actually seem to be enjoying themselves onstage. I particulalry appreciated the tall young woman who danced and sang as one of the murderesses in "Cell Block Tango" and later played Justice in the courtroom scene.

Everyone in the cast does a terrific job. Kat Murello, who looks a lot like Catherine Zeta Jones, plays Velma with a sensuous cool that's intriguing. As Roxie Hart, Elizabeth Thomas is a worthy competitor for the fickle Chicago press's attentions. When the two attractive young women team up - whether it's dancing or engaging in snappy repartee - the energy onstage is electric. David Rodriguez, a local favorite, plays Billy Flynn with all the self satisfied egotism one might expect from a man who never loses a case. Another favorite, Lisa Lynds, gives her role as Matron "Mama" Morton all the bawdy grittiness it deserves. The handsome Christopher Gilbert doubles as Master of Ceremonies and a morphing assortment of jury members. K. Archambault is brilliant, to the point of almost stealing the show, as the sympathetic reporter Mary Sunshine.

Archambault also assisted Marder with choreographing the show. Tony Moran, another CPA regualr, is endearing as Roxie's husband, Amos, bringing a lump to our throats when he sings his haunting solo, "Mr Cellophane.

Chicago is presented within the framework of a cabaret act, with the MC introducing each scene as though it were a seperate musical number. There's as much singing as dancing in Chicago, in fact the performers are usually doing both. Paul Schubert, who serves as music director/conductor, is an old hand at The Center. To his credit, all the singers and the seven-piece band, which is featured center stage throughout the show, are excellent. Andrew Weintraub's set and light design focuses on red and black - dramatic colors that heighten the dark sexuality of the material. The simple set, with its tiers along side and above the band and its easily moveable parts, is versatile, effective, and visually satisfying. Natalie Lunn's provocative costume designs capture the flapper spirit of the late 20's, echoing Weintraub's color scheme until the final sequence, when Velma and Roxie, declared innocent by a bamboozled courtroom, perform their final song and dance sequence dressed in white.

Even if you've recently seen the film, you'll want to catch Up In One's exciting stage version of Chicago at The Center For Performing Arts In Rhinebeck Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm, through August 13. Tickets are $22 adults; $20 seniors and children. Call the box office at 845-876-3080 for tickets and information. Or visit the website at"

as reviewed by Rebecca Daniels from the periodical Woodstock Times

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Community Theater in the Mid Hudson Valley of New York. Information on shows, auditions, and our general adventures onstage, backstage and in the audience.