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Theatre Review: Chicago


Prohibition nightclubs. Bootleg liquor. And women with a pistol in the dresser drawer who’ll shoot any man who does them wrong – preferably in the bedroom, where the betrayal occurred. No, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re in Chicago, where a sensational killing can transform a wayward wife into a front page celebrity. That notoriety is irresistible, for the women in this story, and for folks in the audience watching this cheeky vaudeville-style musical. And make no mistake – no one feels sorry for the two-timing guy on the wrong end of the gun, because…

“He had it comin! He had it comin! He only had himself to blame! If you had been there, if you had seen it, I ‘magine you would have done the same.”

Then there’s the superstar attorney, well known for getting his clients acquitted, despite the evidence. He maintains a murder trial is just a three-ring circus, and jurors can be won over by a smooth closing argument.

“Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle… razzle dazzle ‘em. Give them an act with lots of flash in it, and the reaction will be passionate. Give ‘em the old hocus pocus, bead and feather ‘em…”

Dark humor and decadence are this show’s bread and butter. And rather famously there is a great deal of dancing by women in revealing black lace. None of this is news to the show’s fans -- the touring version of “Chicago” has played Sacramento four times, and there was a movie version, too.

But this is the first time “Chicago” has been staged at the Music Circus, which raises the question: How does all that provocative dancing play on a small, round stage? The answer: changes have been made, but it’s still sexy and show-stopping. And the energetic pit band – mostly brass, banjo and percussion – never misses a beat. All told, “Chicago” delivers a full evening of sassy theater, with catchy tunes and lots of nod-nod, wink-wink humor.

Sacramento's Music Circus presents "Chicago" at the Wells Fargo Pavilion through August 29th.


Jeff Hudson

Contributing Arts Reporter and Theatre Critic

Jeff Hudson has been contributing arts-related stories to Capital Public Radio since 1995, with an emphasis on theater and classical music. He attends over 100 performances annually, ranging from modern musicals to medieval masses.   Read Full Bio 

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