Long before the Bush-Cheney junta started using computers to disenfranchise voters and downing airplanes to kill Democrats to keep control of the Senate, the Mob and the Machine did it in Chicago. But that was over 80 years ago, and from this distance it looks quaint, even fun.
And that's what the musical Chicago celebrates: a crooked justice system, the romance of murder, and the great jazz, dance, and high living that accompanied the culture of celebrity and materialism that was born on a mass scale in the Roaring '20's. Would it be that we can look back on the current fascist policies of the ruling elite—and the worship of overindulgence—in 80 years and make such fun of it!
But that said, Chicago remains one of the most vibrant musicals in the last 30 years and, despite the cutting of some insightful commentary on America's mainstream corruption, timely as well. At the heart of its dazzling, non-stop entertainment is the collaboration of Fred Ebb, John Kander, and Bob Fosse, which adapted a 1926 play by a Windy City journalist into a series of memorable vaudeville routines, each reminiscent of a great performer from that era.
As the tight, emotive scenes of swinging music, sexy dancing, and hip lyrics follow one after the other, it's patently evident how much better this show has aged than A Chorus Line, which opened the same year.
Given the structure of the story, the opportunities for show stoppers abound, and the cast of this revival is fully up to the task: Sultry-voiced, swiveled-hipped Brenda Braxton is a street-savvy Velma Kelly to Bianca Marroquin's wide-eyed innocent turned Machiavellian media darling, Roxie Hart; Ray Bakhour's Amos Hart draws from Caspar Milquetoast and the Pillsbury Doughboy and comes up aces on the perennial crowd-pleaser, "Mr. Cellophane"; Carol Woods delivers the goods in "When You're Good to Mama" as Matron Morton of the Cook County Jail; and Gregory Harrison is a charming, exuberant Billy Flynn.
It's a short run, 6 days only, so hurry. It's as fresh as the first time. Chicago runs through August 15th. 303-893-4100.