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theater review: MTG...s ...Chicago... Seductive and Sensational

Talented Cast Brings Tale of Murder and Intrigue to Life

By Robert Morrison

Chicago

Julie Kang G and Cristina A. Thomas G,
producers

Danbee Kim ’09, director

April 28-30, May 4-6, 2006

Kresge Little Theatre

There is a dark, bare stage with four lighted doorways in front of a full house. A cell phone/flash photography announcement appears, and then we are transported back to the roaring 1920’s and the era of nightclubs. The show begins with a stylish Emcee introduction (Estevan M. Martinez ’08), followed by “All that Jazz.” This ensemble piece is led by Velma Kelly (Eleanor M. Pritchard ’06) to the subdued (at least for now) rhythms of Isaac Brody and his orchestra behind the stage. So begins a fine evening at MTG’s “Chicago.”

Across the stage, the acting fits the bill. Eloisa M. De Castro ’07 is excellent as Roxie Hart, the spotlight-hogging bombshell whose trip through the penal system is the main story line. She sparkles in her solos, plays coy to get her way, and flashes anger when she doesn’t get what she wants. Matthew A. Ciborowski ’08 is veritably the smooth operator, Billy Flynn, who’s always in control. Pritchard embodies the ever-changing persona of Velma Kelly. She is harsh to Roxy in their first encounter, later attempts reconciliation (but is rebutted), and finally garners sympathy when supplanted from the murderess’ row spotlight.

The audience sympathizes with Gregory J. Lohman G’s Amos Hart, Roxie’s painfully honest and boring husband. Thom Dancy, who plays Mary Sunshine, accentuates the idealistic sweetness of her job as a reporter (and is a well set-up surprise in the trial). Momma, the prison warden, is cheerfully played by Patricia M. Fogerson ’07, but then again, she’s raking in her money assisting these popular murderesses. The host of murderesses and ensemble all fill their roles seamlessly and with spunk.

The stage direction (courtesy of Danbee Kim ’09 as mentored by Stephen L. Peters G) is fluid, moving from act to act, revealing the plot smoothly as it jumps between nightclub acts. Of special note is the trial opening tour deforce, “Razzle Dazzle.” Strangely enough, as good as the song is, the jury steals the scene.

The choreography (by Diana T. Lusk ’08 and captained by Amelia H. Thomas) has pizzazz and flare, befitting both the setting and the action. In particular, the “Cell Block Tango” makes excellent use of the tableau, and is effectually punctuated by lighting (Sean Glass) to keep everything sharp and vivid. The lighting also does its job in the rest of the show. The costumes (by Nori Pritchard ’06 assisted by Steven L. Flowers ’06) are outstanding, from seductive negligees, to pink dancing outfits for a fan dance, and of course, the sharp clothes Billy Flynn changes into and out of on stage. They make the night club numbers stand out as real spectacles.

The costume and set changes all went smoothly the night I saw the show. The court room came together fluidly in the midst of a lot of action onstage. Roxy disappeared after one number, and was back on stage in a different dress for the next. The actors wore microphones so everything could be heard, but the quality was natural and blended well with the music.