CHICAGO by Fred Ebb, John Kander and Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, with Bianca Marroquin, Brenda Braxton and Gregory Harrison. Presented by Barry and Fran Weissler at the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to October 19, Tuesday to Saturday 8 pm, mats Wednesday, Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $26-$94 . 416-872-1212. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Chicago's in toronto, and it's lean mean and completely entertaining. This Chicago doesn't look like a touring show, mainly because the original specimen is classic musical minimalism, already stripped for speed and made for travel, and because it boasts a kick-ass orchestra interacting in an almost postmodern way with awesome singers and dancers.
The cast, fresh off a Broadway run, is terrific, though there were one or two ragged vocal entrances from the chorus. Bianca Marroquin , the first Mexican actor to perform in a starring role on a Broadway mainstage, starts off a little slowly as Roxie, but she turns it way up and by the end looks like the young Shirley MacLaine reincarnated.
Brenda Braxton 's Velma Kelly is a charismatic combo of hard-nosed and sultry sex, and Gregory Harrison has the chops to make Billy Flynn a completely credible courtroom magician. The dance sequence for We Both Reached For The Gun, where Flynn plays Roxie like a puppet, is a knockout.
Marcia Lewis Bryan as Matron Mama Morton will not make those introduced to this musical via the Oscar-winning movie forget Queen Latifah. Bryan goes a much more butch route here, but not enough, if you ask me. If you're going to downplay the cleavage Latifah made work for her, gimme a full-on butch babe. Wish Lea DeLaria had made the trip with this production.
But Bob Fosse protege Ann Reinking , who choreographed this production in the style of her mentor, creates spectacular images using only bodies as her medium. With those as the raw material, meagre props - a few feathers, a pair of gloves and one bar of lights - will do just fine, thank you.