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Riverside Dinner Theater Chicago

By • Oct 29th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Chicago
Riverside Dinner Theater
Riverside Dinner Theater, Fredericksburg, VA
Through November 27th
2:45 with one long intermission
$50-$58/$36-$52 Seniors/$40 Children
Reviewed October 20, 2010

Chicago is a Tony award winning musical with book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse; music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Chicago takes place in 1920’s Chicago and is the story of two women in jail, one for killing her lover who tried to leave and the other who came home to find her husband in bed with her sister. Both used their sexuality and sensationalism to try to get away with their crimes. Marred only by a few sound problems, Chicago‘s exciting acting and exceptional choreography by Christopher Noffke make it a must see musical.

Roxie Hart was the fiery redhead played by Sabra Michelle. Michelle had sassiness about her that played to the audience. She knew how to work a crowd to get the right amount of sympathy from the audience using her voice and body to get the right response. Her cellmate Velma who had already had her “five minutes of fame” was played by Vilma Gil. Unlike Michelle, Gil was much angrier at the world and her place in life. Her onstage presence was more sultry and her dance routines were much more provocative. The hot shot lawyer that everyone was after (and also to win their cases) was the stylish Billy Flynn played by Gary Best. Best knew how to win an argument and used all his flair and pizzazz to do it. The ethics were left at home. John Hollinger was heartbreaking as Roxie’s husband Amos. He was easily manipulated and cast aside when his purpose had been met. His song “Mister Cellophane” showed his human side, and that he wasn’t caught up in the celebrity status of his wife.

The set was made up of a large multi-level platform, with hidden steps and elevators allowing for the cast to appear and vanish quickly. The absence of color (everyone’s costume was mostly black) gave the show a dark and sinister quality which was not a bad thing. A huge “Chicago” marquee lit up in several different ways to help emphasize various scenes. The singing and dancing were well done; many of the dance numbers featured many players. “The Cell Block Tango” made fun of each girl’s situation, and each actor sold their part. The only distraction were some sound and microphone issues. For example, some of the female dancers had mics that rustled against their clothes or thumped as they rolled around on the floor. One unique part of this production was a video that played at the very top of the show. This video allowed us to see the point of view of Roxie Hart and the crime she is accused of.

Enjoy a good menu and an excellently performed production of Chicago. The show has been extended through November 27th.

Director’s Notes

I am excited and proud to finally bring Chicago to the Riverside Center. After our pursuit of licensing rights for almost four years, this show has now become a reality for our illustrious stage.

I have a fondness and personal attachment to Chicago, having appeared as Mary Sunshine in both the first national tour and the Las Vegas production that starred Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. I can remember seeing the revival back in 1996 and being dazzled from th first notes of the horns playing “All That Jazz” straight through to the end of the “Hot Money Rag.” What sophistication, sensuality, excitement, and star quality! How wonderful for Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb to finally get their reward for a show that was ahead of its time in 1975 and completely overshadowed by the opening of A Chorus Line the same year. Murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery-just like the reality television world we live in today. A dark parable of American injustice, this sexy musical extravaganza not only sensationalizes its two starts, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, for th murders of their husbands, but also propels both of them to showbiz stardom. If Roxie and Velma had been around today, they probably would have their own television show called “The Real Housewives of Chicago.”

Thanks to Annie Reinking’s splendid choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse” and the delicious wit of director Walter Bobbie, Chicago went on to win 6 Tony awards in 1997, including Best Musical Revival. Still running on Broadway, it has become Broadway’s longest running revival and the sixth longest running show in Broadway history. In 2002, Chicago was released as a feature film and later went on to win an academy Award for Best Picture.

I believe what makes Chicago such a winner is how it resonates in today’s media driven society. Adding to its potency is the fact that it is based on the true stories of the 1924 trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, as covered by Maurine Dallas Watkins for the Chicago Tribune. Kander and Ebb’s musical score produces several showstoppers and cleverness of basing them on traditional vaudeville acts and star performers is intriguing. this character-driven musical excites from beginning to end!

And that is my mission for this production of Chicago — to excite you, our audience, from beginning to end. I could not have accomplished this without a wonderful cast, production staff and technical crew. I pay special tribute to Christopher Noffke for his electrifying re-creation of some of Annie Reinkings’s choreography as well as his own take on Bob Fosse’s style. As always, my gratitude and admiration go out to Ron Wehman for his willingness to tackle this great show, his keen musical sensibilities, and “all that jazz”…..

Patrick A’Hearn

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by the Riverside Dinner Theater.

Cast

  • Velma Kelly: Vilma Gil
  • Roxie Hart: Sabra Michelle
  • Fred Casely: Adam Workman
  • Sergeant Fogarty: Brian Baez
  • Amos Hart: John Hollinger
  • Liz: TaLon Thomas
  • Annie: Sheri Hayden
  • June: Heather McIntosh
  • Hunyak: Abby Hart
  • Mona: Christin Pristas
  • Matron “Mama” Morton: Wynn Creasy
  • Billy Flynn: Gary Best
  • Mary Sunshine: M. James
  • Go-To-Hell Kitty: Rachel Simpson
  • Harry: Ricardo Coleman, Jr.
  • Aaron/The Jury: Calvin Register, Jr.
  • Doctor/The Judge: Brian Baez
  • Martin Harrison: Anthony Williams
  • Court Clerk: Ricardo Coleman, Jr.
  • Bailiff: Josh Kelly
  • Announcer/Reporter: Kenneth Gary
  • Reporter/Photographer: Nicholas Rivera-Miller

Understudies

  • Roxie: Sheri Hayden
  • Velma: TaLon Thomas
  • Amos: Robert L. Nelson
  • “Mama” Morton: Andrea Kahane
  • Billy Flynn: Alex Balian
  • Mary Sunshine: J. Kelly
  • For all other roles: Jake Bumbrey, Kylie Clark, Kendall Mostafavi

Crew

  • Director: Patrick A’Hearn
  • Producer: Rollin E. Wehman
  • Musical Director: Rollin E. Wehman
  • Scenic Design by: Curtis Craddock, Mathew P. Westcott, Phil Carlucci
  • Choreography by: Christopher Noffke
  • Lighting Design by: Phil Carlucci
  • Costume Design/Coordination: Chris Hlusko
  • Scenic Artist: Matthew P. Westcott
  • Production Manager: Chalmers Hood
  • Stage Manager: Ben Feindt
  • Associate Artistic Director for Riverside Center: Patrick A’Hearn
  • Assistant to the Director: Carole Shrader
  • Opening Video produced by: Jonathan Dodd
  • Dance Captain: Christin Pristas
  • Technical Director: Phil Carlucci
  • Lead Costume Coordinator: Patricia Lynch
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Tracy Abercrombie
  • Senior Stage Technician: Paul Johannes
  • Senior Stage/Audio Technician: Ashton Banks
  • Stage Technician: Tommy Cleary
  • Stage Technician Swing: Martin Deffner
  • Stage Technician Swing: Rendel Sogueco
  • Stage Technician Swing: John Mahon
  • Senior Lighting Technician: Rebecca Mahon
  • Senior Lighting Technician: Steve Thompson
  • Senior Audio Technician: Roberrt Walpole
  • Set Carpenter/Welder: Curtis Craddock
  • Properties Mistress: Kylie Clark

Disclaimer: Riverside Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

One Response »

  1. The crime that Velma Kelly commited was what the video was of. You all should come see its absolutely spectacular