Friday night, I saw “Chicago” at a community theater in the next county. This was the third time I’d seen this musical, which is the longest running American musical on Broadway. I first saw it in Las Vegas. In 2010, I saw it on Broadway.
I’ve also seen the film version, and it is a rare exception to my experience that the stage production is superior to the film version. (For example, the stage versions of Mamma Mia!, Phantom and Jersey Boys are all superior to the film versions.) The film version’s use of Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, and Richard Gere, all of whom sang very well in addition to their strong acting abilities, was impressive. That’s why the film won six Oscars, including Best Picture.
I was wary of seeing the community theater production. I’d been to only one other of its productions and was disappointed with an uneven performance. That production was “Into the Woods”(there is also a film version) which uses an ensemble cast ). Since community theaters use “local” performers, finding a strong cast in a small town was unsuccessful. Some of the key cast members failed to enunciate properly and their lines were unintelligible.
But “Chicago” only has two central women characters (Roxie and Velma) so I felt there would be strong actresses in those roles. And I was right. It was an enjoyable evening. The supporting roles of prison warden Mama Morton and attorney Billy Flynn were also strong performances.
I was impressed that the music was provided by a small (about 10) orchestra. I believe that both the Vegas and Broadway productions used recorded music because of the expense of a live orchestra. There was a wide range of ages in the orchestra, so I’m sure it was a community group.
So, I’ll be back… to the Monticello Opera House.