Chicago blew into Summerville this week with obscenely riotous results-A packed James F. Dean Theatre and a standing ovation once the two leading ladies of the show, Kelly McDavid(Velma Kelly) and Lindsay Marie(Roxie Hart), made their final appearance. After seeing Chicago advertisements plastered on billboards throughout the area, I went into this with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed.
Many may not know that the two main characters of this musical were based on the true life 1924 trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. A reporter by the name of Maurine Dallas Watkins was assigned to cover these trials for the Chicago Tribune. Her resulting sensational columns documenting these trials proved so popular she decided to write a play based on them. "Roxie Hart" was patterned after Beula Annan and "Velma Kelly" after Belva Gaertner. Lawyers William Scott Stewart and W. W. O'Brien were models for the character "Billy Flynn". Both ladies were acquitted of their murders just weeks apart and Chicago was born.
The Flowertown Players presentation of this highly acclaimed and sizzling Broadway hit with its Academy award-winning film version was nothing less than spectacular for Summerville's intimate theater venue. I was thoroughly captivated by Kelly McDavid's rendition of Velma. Her body language was convincingly brash and facial expressions definitively sassy, exactly what you would expect from a cabaret singer accused of murder. Her portrayal was unshakably confident and her dance routines were executed with audacious swag.
On the other hand, Lindsey Marie exuded the appearance of innocence, a dead-ringer for Roxie, and that's no play on words. Lindsey's scene with Brendan Kelly as Billy Flynn portraying Roxie's press conference turned into a ventriloquist act with Billy dictating a new version of the truth to the press while Roxie mouthed the words was executed impeccably and one of the more engaging highlights of the play, in my humble opinion.
John Black played timid Amos Hart, Roxie's husband, a.k.a. 'Mister Cellophane should have been my name. Mister cellophane cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I'm there'. The scene where John sang this song was another highlight of the night as was Kristen May's(Mama Morton) execution of "When You're Good to Mama".
From "All That Jazz" to the "Finale" the whole cast put on a highly energized performance with know let up. The punch lines were delivered successfully. The stage was simple, but appropriate. The live orchestra with trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and percussion added to the realism and jazziness. Victoria Malone and Linda Wills accompaniment on the keyboard was superb(It's not easy to play simultaneously on the same keyboard and stay in sync.) Congratulations to JC Conway and the production team for a successful, razzle dazzle evening.
Thank you to the Flowertown Players for my front row seats, I was up close and personal-close enough to smell the perfume and see the sweat. Go see it-purchase tickets. "What can I say, it's Chicago."