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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 24, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 21
Village Theatre's Chicago needs more dazzle
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Village Theatre's Chicago needs more dazzle

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

CHICAGO
VILLAGE THEATRE
Through June 29 (Issaquah)
July 5 - 28 (Everett)


Sometimes, one really wants to like a production, but there's something amiss. And then there's the fishing expedition to figure out just what it is. This is the feeling one gets about what looks like a generally outstanding production of Chicago at the Village Theatre. The usual great technical elements are here: the versatile stairs and flying iron bars set and the flashy lighting of Tom Sturge; beautiful, shiny costuming by Karen Ann Ledger; a tight little orchestra headed by Tim Symons. The choreography by Kristin Holland, while not exactly Bob Fosse-esque, is generally sophisticated and fun to watch.

Several outstanding cast members include the suave, sophisticated Timothy McCuen Piggee as Billy Flynn (a great casting choice by director Steve Tomkins), the sassy sounds of Shaunyce Omar as Matron Mama, the dulcet tones of Ryan McCabe as Mary Sunshine, and an Energizer bunny of an ensemble man, John David Scott, who tapped beautifully, became every hysterical member of the jury, and stole off with the show. Not to leave out the most pathetic cheated-upon hubby ever, the never-to-be-ignored Richard Gray!

FLIRTING FOR FREEDOM
Chicago's basic story focuses on Roxie Hart, who kills a lover because he threatens to dump her. She then figures out that publicity is the key, vying with other female jailhouse inhabitants to get publicity to garner sympathetic jurors, coached by a jaded lawyer to get free by claiming self-defense, and employing tactics such as fake crying, sexy courtroom moves, and, finally, claiming to be pregnant. It's all a game: from manipulating the gullible press to lying on the stand to planning a vaudeville show after release that takes advantage of all that free publicity.

Taryn Darr, as Roxie, starts off well, especially in the physical comedy timing, and is suited generally to the role, but somehow isn't quite cheeky enough. Desiree Davar, new to Village's stage, a great dancer with a killer body and a lot of obvious talent, has a mellifluous voice for Velma, the other flashy man-killer. But she seems too cold and calculating, somehow removed from emoting over the stage threshold. You might say there isn't enough jazz in her Jazz.

Usually, a show exceeds the sum of its parts, but in this case, while the parts seemed appropriate and even terrific in their ways, they didn't quite add up. If this was due to it being opening night, or to too many changes (rumor had it) right before opening night, then all will be well soon, as the cast settles in. Otherwise, this is a production in which the usually 'excellent' Village is only 'pretty good.' For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call (425) 392-2202.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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