Friday, July 22, 2011


Joann Coleman as Velma Kelly

Last night was the opening night for Chicago at the Cumberland County Playhouse. If it hasn't been obvious from the multiple times I've posted about the show, I've been super excited about this production since I first heard that it was going to grace the mainstage at CCP.

Chicago is dark, edgy, and pushing the envelope for the traditionally family oriented theatre that is the Cumberland County Playhouse. But in my honest opinion, Chicago is just what the Playhouse needs to bring in a younger crowd and those who wouldn't normally attend a theatrical performance of any kind. Not to mention it is a fantastic show in and of itself.

One of my favorite things about this production was the lighting. Lighting was used over and over again to set the stage, the mood, the emotions of different aspects of the show. While I tend to like glitter and glitz in the literal sense, the lighting is what gave the show its sparkle. The set was simple, for the most part, but very effective in it uses. In combination with the lighting of the show, it was like walking into a seedy 1920s dive bar. Basically, it was perfect.

The costume designs were amazing. I know that it was very important to the powers that be at CCP to keep the show as conservative as possible in the costuming (one of the issues when you are running a "family" theatre). But in all honesty, they costumes were what I expected. They weren't nearly as conservative as I expected that they would be, but by no means were they inappropriate (mind you, I wouldn't take a very young child to this show...but I wouldn't have done that no matter who was doing the production; it's an adult show). I love that every single person in the cast had a different costume. It always amazes me how they can look the same, but totally different at the same time.

Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart were played by Joann Coleman and Ali Gritz, respectively. Both were amazing (as I knew they would be, since I saw them in Little Shop of Horrors). My biggest problem with the two of them was that when they were both on stage at the same time I had major issues determining who I should be watching! Coleman's disgruntled, turned desperate Velma was amazing. Her voice alone is worth going to see the show, and add in her fantastic acting and ability to command the stage and you had a perfectly cast lead role. Gritz played Roxie as innocence and sexuality all rolled into one. One second she was scared innocent, the next second she was immature and entitled. There were times when she would walk out on stage and I would stop watching whatever else was going on, simply to see what her next facial expression would be.

Daniel Black played the lovable "Mr. Cellophane," Amos Hart. Black had the amazing ability to make you relate to his character in any role he plays. This was no different. You can't help but feel pity and embarrassment for Amos Hart as he is played by his wife and her lawyer simply to bend him to their needs.

Slick lawyer, Billy Flynn was played by Britt Hancock. He had some of the best performances in the show, including "All I Care About" and "Razzle Dazzle." Hancock has the ability to make you love the character, even though you know that he's only doing the things he does for the love of the money and fame. Should you hate the character? Sure. But you can't. I was right when I said that he'd be the perfect Billy Flynn. He was.

The supporting cast, both male and female, were amazing. I've come to expect nothing less from the Cumberland County Playhouse. Choreography was by Leila Nelson and was beautiful. There were times when the choreography got across the edgy bits of the show that couldn't be spoken in words. With the talent of the dancers to go with the choreography, it made for several amazing ensemble performances, one of which was "We Both Reached For The Gun," which was the best number in the entire show, hands down.  


There were so many other amazing performers in the show that I wish I could list them all individually. Just know that this show is more than worth seeing. I'll be seeing it again tomorrow, and I have no doubt several other times between now and when it's run ends on October 7th. My advice: click HERE and get tickets now. You won't regret it.

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