Monday, October 08, 2007
I like to drop in on Chicago every year: this time I didn't even bother beforehand to find out who was currently in the cast. I wound up seeing George Hamilton's last performance as Billy Flynn (he oozed charm and flashed a great smile but vocally he was probably the weakest Billy I've seen to date) and, although none of the Playbills handed to my party of five said so, fit Eric Jordan Young was on as Amos. The last tme I saw Young in Chicago he was hip-grinding in the ensemble with his abs on display, so I was not prepared for him to score as sad sack Mr. Cellophane. I won't make that mistake again: he had the audience in his white-gloved hands. Adriane Lenox made a fine Mama Morton, happily embellishing her number with some jazzy vocal riffs. If the ensemble was tired you wouldn't have known it from the other side of the footlights: the dancing was tight and sharp, and the six merry murderesses all nailed their "Cell Block Tango" bits. But ultimately, this revival of Chicago rises or falls on Roxie and Velma both individually and as a team, and that's where this visit proved less than ideal. While Michelle de Jean was a sensational Roxie, she needed someone to play off with more comic ability than Brenda Braxton, whose effortful Velma was short on wicked fun.