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Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Music by John Kander
(Kander & Ebb Bios)
Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Bob Fosse, Original Director/Choreographer
(Bob Fosse Bio)

Starring: Michelle DeJean, Brenda Braxton,
Christopher McDonald, Rob Bartlett
Featuring: Roz Ryan and R. Lowe and an Ensemble of Dancers/Singers/Actors

Choreographer: Ann Reinking
Director: Walter Bobbie
Supervising Music Director: Rob Fisher
Music Director: Leslie Stifelman
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Ken Billington
Sound Design: Scott Lehrer
Orchestrations: Ralph Burns
Dance Music Arrangements: Peter Howard
Script Adaptation: David Thompson
Musical Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Hair Design: David Brian Brown
Casting: James Calleri, CSA
Original Casting: Jay Binder
Technical Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi
Dance Supervisor: Gary Chryst
Production Stage Manager: David Hyslop
Associate Producer: Alecia Parker
Presented in association with Live Nation
General Manager: B. J. Holt
Press: The Pete Sanders Group
Based on the presentation of City Center's Encores

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 6, 2006
Originally Published on

This was a jazzy, electric evening, full of new surprises and extraordinary performances, even in its endless, years-long revival. In fact, the house was sold out, with lines around the corner. Chicago, the musical, with (1975 opening) Fred Ebb's lyrics, John Kander's music, Ebb and Bob Fosse's book, John Lee Beatty's sets, and William Ivey Long's costumes, bubbles buoyantly, year after year. If you like a hot chorus of leggy dancers in black, brief lace and strapped, high heels, then this is the show to see again and again. In fact, 21 song and dance numbers were performed by a cast of 1920's Chicago sassy female murderers, sassier prison matron, surprise hormonal felon, sad-sack live husband, muscular, dead husbands, hip police sergeant, loquacious, arrogant lawyer, doctor, judge, bailiff, court clerk, and hilarious, one-man jury. The featured stars, Brenda Braxton as Velma Kelly and Michelle DeJean as Roxie Hart, kept the momentum going beyond mesmerizing. I did not want this show to stop.

One set, with the orchestra in full view, above stage, is one of the campiest and classiest on Broadway. I love to see the orchestral musicians, and they obviously loved to see the showgirls. Like the actors, the musicians were in black, and the black/silver/smoky milieu was deliciously decadent and decidedly driven. From the first moment that the short-haired, slim, well-suited conductor, Leslie Stifelman, swung her baton, the combined Broadway-jazz musical theatrics filled the Ambassador Theatre with racy rhythms and raunchy razzle-dazzle. Brenda Braxton, Velma Kelly, pixie haired and leggy, as a murderous competitor for publicity and freedom, has dramatic pathos and vocal power, plus sizzling personality and more. Michelle DeJean, Roxie Hart, stylish and leggy, has sensational singing presence and boundless energy. Rob Bartlett, as Roxie's downbeat husband, Amos Hart, the hapless guy with money and love, is charming and increasingly charismatic, especially in his last Gleason-like, vaudevillian dance offstage.

Roz Ryan, as Matron "Mama" Morton, who punishes, but adores, her ill-fated females, gives one of the strongest and most magnetic performances, with fun, frenzy, and full-throated song. Christopher McDonald, the money-grabbing, news-hungry lawyer, Billy Flynn, fills the stage with persona and persuasive, understated humor, and his voice is great, too. R. Lowe, Mary Sunshine, gives the surprise performance of the night, and Shawn Emamjomeh, the one-man, hilarious jury, has perfected gesture, a la "Cage aux Folles". (He also plays Harry, another targeted, macho male). Other stars include the muscular, Greg Butler (Fred Casely), the sexy Bryn Dowling (Mona), Melissa Rae Mahon (Go-to-Hell-Kitty), and Bernard Dotson (the over-the-top judge). Ebb's lyrics and Kander's music scintillate, especially in "All that Jazz", "Cell Block Tango", "Roxie", "Mister Cellophane", "Razzle Dazzle", and "Hot Honey Rag". Ebb and Fosse wrote a book that ties it together like a well-sewn quilt, and Ann Reinking's choreographic expertise has dance figures that remain in the mind for days. Walter Bobbie (Polish Joke) directs the show with tight timing and elemental humor au moment. Run – to see this show of shows, with each new cast, as the mood and music entertain endlessly.

Brenda Braxton and Cast from "Chicago"

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Dave Gibson Quintet at Azalea

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Azalea Owner, Enrico, with Guest, Ben Vereen

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Dave Gibson Quintet

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Roberta with Gian Paolo, Amarone Ristorante Manager, at Azalea

Photo courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at