Tuesday night at DPAC was a good news/bad news situation. The bad news: the much-publicized Christie Brinkley was not able to perform her role of Roxie Hart in Chicago, due to illness. The good news: Bianca Marroquin was flown in from NYC, right from the Broadway production of Chicago to fill in for Brinkley. The best news: Marroquin is brilliant! She absolutely oozes star quality from every pore of her body, and the audience forgot, within seconds of Marroquin's entrance, that they were not seeing the person they thought they would see in the role.
It was only later, after taking copious notes about how amazing the entire cast was at hitting every single mark, every nuance of choreography, and that entire cast's chemistry was deliciously convincing, that I found out that Bianca Marroquin literally got off the plane and walked onto the stage, without even introductions, much less a last-minute rehearsal with a new cast. The show was absolutely seamless, and ran like a cast that's been doing it every day for ten years.
Chicago, based on a play of the same name, was originally produced on Broadway in 1975, and was written by the legendary duo Kander and Ebb. John Kander wrote the music, and Fred Ebb wrote the lyrics. Ebb and Bob Fosse wrote the book. The story tells of two "merry murderesses" in 1920s Chicago and their attempts, along with their bigshot lawyer, to escape conviction. The musical, which has been a popular hit since its Broadway revival in 1996, is still a tried-and-true classic. The noteworthy elements are the on-stage jazz band, the big musical numbers, and the Fosse-style choreography.
The musical numbers were brilliantly danced, with every signature Fosse isolation in perfect synchronization right down to every actor's pinky finger. The style of the piece is captivating and unique. The singers were brilliant, particularly Kecia Lewis-Evans as Matron "Mama" Morton, who showed her impossible range in the crowd-favorite "When You're Good to Mama," and revealed her softer side when beautifully harmonizing with Amra-Faye Wright (as the iconic Velma Kelly) in the second-act number "Class." Tony Yazbeck was a delightfully convincing Billy Flynn, the lawyer with questionable but effective tactics, and Ron Orbach was irresistible as the overlooked Amos Hart. The cast was rounded out by a phenomenal ensemble, every one of whom has the talent of a star. Every note, every movement, every pause came together for an incredibly enjoyable night of theater.
As I write this review, I'm racking my brain to think of something negative to say about this performance of Chicago, and I'm coming up empty. If this review seems one-sided, it's because the entire experience of seeing the show was one-sided, and that one side was brilliant. I can't render it any other way.
Chicago runs through August 5. For tickets and more information, visit www.dpacnc.com.