Scantily clad chorus girls drape the stage in this sexy American classic. Jazz, giggle water and murder in 1920s Chicago set the city buzzing with gossip about the beautiful criminals who shot, stabbed or poisoned their lovers. Clawing publicity by any means necessary are Velma Kelly and blonde bombshell Roxie Hart, who are determined to win their freedom with the help of shady lawyer Billy Flynn.
Staci Arriaga’s sensuous choreography has dancers kicking, flipping in acrobatic lifts and enthusiastically bouncing through the Charleston in Lucky Penny’s tiny theatre, cheered by an enthusiastic audience. Jenny Angell is sensational as Roxie, purring at her husband hoping for sympathy in a melancholy tap dance and taking the stage by storm in glittering “Roxie” with lights flashing her name on the set’s upper balcony.
Her nemesis, Velma, is tirelessly energetic Tielle Baker, whose physicality in the role is extraordinary, along with comedic reactions to Roxie’s fame while gnashing her teeth on a cigarette, consumed with envy.
Tight stage direction from Taylor Bartolucci and Barry Martin keeps the suspense building toward Roxie’s trial, turning actors toward each side of the theater to engage the audience. Working with a talented cast, music director Craig Burdette brings the foot-tapping numbers to life, from “Razzle Dazzle” to Flynn surrounded by feathers in “All I Care About.” Edward Hightower’s smooth rendition of Flynn is elegantly unscrupulous.
Phillip Percy Williams as kind-hearted reporter Mary Sunshine flirts shamelessly, waving a delicate handkerchief, bellowing “A Little Bit of Good” to highly amusing effect. Roxie’s put-upon husband, Amos Hart (Tim Setzer), garnered sympathy with a humble “Mister Cellophane” and quiet exit shuffling away from the limelight without a backward glance from his frivolous wife. Corrupt Matron “Mamma” Morton terrorizes her cell block with Jennifer Stark’s cynical portrayal of the justice system. She teams up with Velma for the less well known, but hilarious song “Class” bemoaning how the younger generation is forgetting their manners.
“Chicago” at Lucky Penny Productions is a small-scale spectacle of dance and melodrama in this popular musical filled with trench coat clad reporters, showgirls, tommy guns and “All That Jazz.” This passionate evening of crime and desire will have you humming for days, sure to entertain and delight.