CHICAGO is the grandest community theatre production Aisle Say has witnessed in the past five years. Jody Anderson is unequivocally the most talented choreographer in the state. Anderson has taken a coterie of dedicated amateur hoofers and molded them into a razzling dazzling unit that pays homage to the singular talent of Broadway legend Bob Fosse; he of the thrusting pelvis, rounded shoulders and signature bowler hat.
Director Matt Casarino’s exemplary cast includes wonderful singers, beginning with the leads Velma (Barbara Wright) and Roxie (Ashley Harris), extending to Mama Morton (Rebecca Gallatin) and then to the chorus. Christopher Tolomeo leads a great band excelling at the period music of the roaring ’20’s; all perched atop the set – always on stage but never intrusive to the progress of the plot.
Most of us have seen the movie. Aisle Say believes the stage show to be more endearing and certainly funnier. Son Grant accompanied me on opening night. He commented that he had to keep focused for so many exciting twists and turns were happening with such fluidity. That is a credit to both the director and the choreographer. He also commented on the quality that WDL produces, hearkening back to last season’s “Rent”.
I loved the entire cast but Harris was most wonderfully perfect as Roxie, the doe-eyed murderess. How in the world could this harmless looking naif be so cold-blooded? CHICAGO is predominantly a woman-driven show with Velma and Roxie. Billy Flynn (Jeff Santoro) played the ultimate legal sleezeball and he was having too much fun in the role. (Minor costume point. Would have loved to see him in a double breasted stripe suit with those ’20’s era black & white shoes).
Billy was appropriately condescending to Amos (Edward Elder), Roxie’s long suffering husband. He continually referred to him as “Andy”, a running joke that was undoubtedly lost on those in the audience younger than 50. Amos, the poor schlub, had his moment, though. His “Mr. Cellophane” was a show stopper. The fellow can hold a note!
Fred Casely (Chris Turner) was very funny in the role of the deceased. He is the only one in the cast who did not seek out Anderson’s help with choreography.
If you are seeing only one musical this year…this is the one!
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Directed by Matt Casarino
October 29 – November 13, 2010
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.