Having grown up just north of Chicago, I can vouch for a Second City mentality prevalent throughout the local culture. But unlike Los Angeles and some other poseurs for this title, Chicago has managed to inspire a few songs [witness "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)," "My Kind of Town," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown," and "Take Me Back to Chicago,"] that match up reasonably well to the Big Apples' anthems. Now there's a great musical (and film) that captures spirit of the Windy City. I'm speaking, of course, of that Tony and Oscar award-winning show, Chicago.

Photo of Alicia Dunfee as Velma and the cast of Chicago
Alicia Dunfee as Velma Kelly
and the Ensemble
But despite the great architecture, exemplary orchestra, fine museums, jazz and blues clubs, and lousy baseball teams, what is it people remember about this place? The gangsters and crooked politicians, of course! And that's what this musical's about: two women who do in their lovers and how they manipulate the system to go free. It's just like Carl Sandburg said:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.

Carl Sandburg, Chicago

Photo of Scott Beyette as Harry
Scott Beyette as Harry
Boulder's Dinner Theatre's current production of the musical finds the darkness of Sandburg's City of Big Shoulders in a way that the Broadway road show and Hollywood movie did not, with a gritty and provocative ensemble that stands in for the courtroom crowds, reporters, and jail inmates: Fickle and rowdy, they are the masses that feed on celebrity and scandal.

hoto of Alicia Dunfee as Velma
Alicia Dunfee as Velma Kelly
Alicia Dunfee is Velma Kelly, the hard as nails vamp whose murder trial is the talk of the town. Dunfee's dark good looks and rich voice give Kelly the swagger and self-confidence of a Queen bee. Her sting is evident when the upstart, Roxie Hart, the pseudo-innocent blonde bombshell, appears on the scene and steals Velma's thunder.
Photo of Joanie Brousseau-Beyette as Roxie Hart
Joanie Brousseau-Beyette
as Roxie Hart
Joanie Brousseau-Beyette plays Roxie's coquettish charms for all they are worth, convincing us that even after she's blown it with her husband and her lawyer she has what it takes to win them back—and win them back she does.

A.K. Klimpke is smooth as silk as the fast-talkin', slow walkin', good-lookin' Billy Flynn, wrapping the judge and jury around his finger as easily as he does his clients and his female entourage. Wayne Kennedy is priceless as Amos, the simple-minded, big-hearted schlep. Bren. Eyestone Burron knocks 'em dead as "Mama" Morton, the gravity-laden proprietress of the women's wing of the Cook County Jail.

The jazz from the septet is grand, and the costuming (and what it reveals) splendiferous. Boulder's Dinner Theatre's polished Chicago runs through November 2nd. 303-449-6000.

Bob Bows


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