'Chicago' in D.C.

By EMILY ZEMLER Eagle Staff Writer

Murder. Booze. Jazz. Scantily clad women. That's "Chicago." And for three weeks it's all here at the National Theatre here in Washington, D.C. The new national tour of "Chicago," the show with the distinction of being Broadway's longest running revival, will grace the D.C. stage as the debut of its nation-wide run. The cast comes straight from Broadway and the show is directed by Tony award-winner Walter Bobbie. "Chicago," which is essentially a satire of the Illinois legal system during the 1920s, follows cabaret hopeful Roxie Hart from murder to acquittal. But by persuading her husband to hire the best "razzle-dazzle" lawyer available, Roxie proves that fame can buy you freedom. As Roxie sings and dances her way through the Illinois judiciary system, the gullibility of the press, and the public, becomes blatantly obvious. Roxie's source of competition comes in the form of the infamous cabaret dancer Velma Kelly, who killed her husband and sister, but claims she cannot remember a thing. Velma, who headlines such famed numbers as "All That Jazz" and "The Cell Block Tango," loses her favor with the public when Roxie begins to outshine her to the press. In the end, however, when both Roxie and Velma realize that their individual fame is fleeing, they team up to create their own double cabaret act. "Chicago" is about the power of celebrity and the idea that fame can essentially afford a person anything they want. The show is timeless because, as we all know, if you are famous, you generally are above the law. The cast is perfect with the exception of Brenda Braxton, who plays Velma Kelly. Braxton lacks the charismatic stage presence of the rest of the cast and is often upstaged by Bianca Marroquin's Roxie Hart. Marroquin, who has starred in the Mexico City and Broadway productions of "Chicago," is a delight to watch and is by far the best performer in the show. Gregory Harrison plays Roxie's slick lawyer Billy Flynn with enthusiasm. "Chicago's" music and lyrics were written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the multi-award winning composing team responsible for such shows as "Cabaret," "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "Steel Pier." The show was originally directed and choreographed by theater legend Bob Fosse. It is difficult to judge the stage production on its own merit due to the recent success of the film version that received numerous Academy Awards last year, including Best Picture. But the stage show cannot be considered on the same terms as the film because both exist on their own individual levels. Those dazzled by the film version of "Chicago" will be even more enthralled by the stage production. "Chicago" will run from June 11 until June 29 at the National Theatre, which is located at 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-75. Call 1-800-447-7400 or visit www.telecharge.com for more information and for ticket purchases.

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