COSTA MESA (News4usonline) – The 2022-2023 Broadway season at Segerstrom Center for the Arts closed out its run with a stirring performance from the national tour of “Chicago.” The hit musical, which has won six Tony Awards, first came on the scene in 1975.
All these years later, fans of stage and theater still have an extreme fondness for the production as evidenced by a full house turning out to see one of the last performances of the show on the last leg of its seasonal run.
So, the buzz about the show is no secret for stage aficionados, but for someone who may not have a clue about the backdrop of the musical, this production is quite different than most shows in that it has a plug-in interaction with the audience.
The quick synopsis of the production centers around a couple of vaudeville dancers or performers during the jazz age sometime in the 1920s. Let’s back up for a minute. The action begins when one of the performers (Roxie Hart) gets ticked off enough to shoot and kill her lover. Now mind you, Hart is married.
Her husband is Amos Hart (played by Brian Kalinowski), an unassuming and gullible fellow who does whatever it takes to please his wife, even standing by the Mrs. when it is later discovered that Roxie Hart had been going backdoor on him.
This makes for a unique presentation as Roxie Hart goes into deep denial about the murderous incident she facilitated. After the killing, Roxie Harfact (played by Kate Frieden) is taken to the Cook County Jail where she hooks up and gets up under the wings of Velma Kelly (played by Logan Floyd), who is in jail herself as an accused murderer.
This is where things get interesting. While they befriend one another, the women know there is a fine line to their relationship. They’re rivals. They tolerate each other as much as they can until freedom is potentially invited to unlock the doors to their imprisonment.
For that to happen, the services of the flamboyant lawyer Billy Flynn (played by Jeff Brooks) are called upon. “Chicago” essentially revolves around the characters of Flynn, Kelly, and Roxie Hart, although anecdotal appearances by Amos Hart and Matron “Mama” Morton (played by Christina Wells) throughout the two-hour and 30-minute show give the production a nice changeup.
With humor, mystery, drama, and a little bit of intrigue dominating the storyline, “Chicago” is a fast watch, meaning that the musical moves with enough speed that you forget just how long the show is You’re on your toes every minute almost from the start when Roxie Hart takes down her lover. That’s the first surprise.
The second shocker comes when Roxie Hart finds out she’s pregnant. So, here she is married, in jail, and pregnant. That sounds like somewhat of an interesting dilemma Roxie Hart finds herself in. With “Chicago” moving through its normal course of unexpected turns, twists, and unforgettable soundbites, Frieden and Floyd really make the whole thing work with almost effortless fluidity.
Frieden and Floyd make for perfect adversaries. Frieden is so believable as the pretending naïve wife that you overlook that she is an undercover con woman who has the ability to manipulate her hapless husband with anything she does or says.
When you talk about a person being whipped, Amos Hart might as well bring out the butter cream and some cake because his ineptness to discern that he has a smiling snake for a partner borders on ridiculousness. Kalinowski is excellent at playing this role.
As for Floyd, who serves as the show’s lead as Kelly, it’s easy to see why she has top billing. Floyd brings a dash of sassy sexiness and cool arrogance to the role of Kelly that makes her stand out. The same could easily be said about Brooks as he brings Flynn to life seamlessly.
While the dialogue approaches the good, the music and dance routines are what make “Chicago” the spectacular show that it is. Starting with the legendary “All That Jazz,” to the risqué “Cell Block Tango,” with the ambitious “Razzle Dazzle” centered in the middle of the show to the anticlimactic “Hot Honey Rag,” Chicago” brings the heat in its musical numbers. While “Chicago” may have ended its Southern California run, fans hoping to catch a show of the popular musical can see the production in the spring of 2024 where it will appear at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.