Last weekend, theÂ University of Rhode Island Theatre Department presented their performance ofÂ John Kander, Fred EbbÂ and Bob Fosse’sÂ play “Chicago,” asÂ directed by Paula McGlasson.
In prohibition-era Chicago, housewife Roxie Hart (Anya Fox)Â getsÂ arrested by the police after she kills her lover, Fred Casely (Brenden Smerbeck) in the wake of a dispute between them. While in jail, she learns that she will most likely be hanged for her crime, so she has her husband Amos (Ben Miller) hire lawyer Billy Flynn (David Sackal), who has a perfect track record in regards to his clients, to represent her in court.
She hopes that all of this publicity will spring her into a career in vaudeville. However, at the same time, Flynn is also representing vaudevillian Velma Kelly (Julia Bartoletti), who was jailed for the murder of her husband and his lover, who just so happened to be herÂ sister and a rivalry forms between the two as both look to steal the spotlight from one another.
“Chicago”Â is one very energetic and flashy musical; in fact, there really isn’t much spoken dialogue in between the songs but because of this, the musical does move at a very solid pace. It surprisingly also has quite a lot of humor as well, whether it’s from an enthusiastic court jury that responds to every major event in Roxie’s testimony,Â to the members of the cast who introduce each of the song numbers, sometimes even noting what happens in certain songs.
The standout song number would have to beÂ “Cell Block Tango,”Â in which Velma and the other murderesses of the Cook County Jail tell their stories about how they axed off the men in their lives.
Of course, to back it all up is a terrific cast, with every member of it being perfectly cast in their respective roles. All are fantastic but there are a few notable standouts, including Bartoletti and Fox as Velma and Roxie, respectively, and Danielle Dube as matron Mama Morton, the matron of the Cook County Jail in which Velma, Roxie, and their fellow murderesses preside.
The musical will be running again this weekend from the 24Â toÂ 27 in the Robert E. Will Theatre. Tickets are $20 for general audiences, seniors, and URI faculty andÂ staff,Â and $15 for URI students.