“Chicago” brings money, murder, and all that jazz to the CIBC theater


Jeremy Daniel

Logan Floyd (Left) and Katie Frieden star in CIBC Theater’s showing of Chicago.

With its alluring merry murders, instantly-recognizable numbers and iconic choreography from Broadway deity Bob Fosse, there are more than a few good reasons why Fred Ebb’s “Chicago” is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.

The musical, adapted from Maurine Dallas Watkins’ book of the same name, has been revived and produced for decades since its original premiere in 1975, including as a feature film that won the 2002 Oscar for best picture. Currently enjoying a two-week stop at the CIBC Theatre, the impressive ensemble cast of the touring production makes “Chicago” a must-see for Fosse lovers.

Starring Logan Floyd and Katie Frieden, “Chicago” follows housewife/aspiring vaudeville performer Roxie Hart (Frieden) who murders her lover and is sent to Cook County Jail, where she meets fellow murderess Velma Kelly (Floyd). Enraptured by the publicity Velma has received, Roxie sets out to use her murder trial as a vehicle to launch her career in show business, enlisting the help of notorious attorney Billy Flynn (Jeff Brooks) along the way. 

Originally written, directed, and choreographed by Bob Fosse, “Chicago’s” stylistic flare is one of its most recognizable elements. When you think “Chicago,” you think skimpy costumes, slinky choreography and plenty of jazz. Rest assured, this tour delivers all the signature aesthetic trappings in spades. From the monochrome all-black costumes helping the ensemble play multiple roles to the impressively-executed choreography, there is no question that this production fundamentally understands what makes “Chicago” so razzle-dazzling. 

Without question, though, it is the all-star ensemble that breathes life into “Chicago’s” comedic and dramatic elements and musical numbers. Nailing Fosse’s demanding choreography is no small task, but the ensemble, led by dance captains Michelle Attardo and Chase McFadden, rises to the challenge, delivering number after number of impressive athleticism and commendable musicality.

The talent of the ensemble does not end with the musical numbers, either. Much of “Chicago’s” book, and the original direction being replicated here, relies on a sharp, specific sense of humor that involves fourth wall breaks and interactions with the band, who are onstage the entire production. 

If anything, I found myself wishing for more chances to give ensemble performers comedic beats and supporting roles – despite the fact that a number of cast members pulled double or triple duty. A number of the show’s biggest laughs came not from the leads, but the collaborative efforts of a spirited and talented ensemble. Standouts among the airtight cast include Sammy Tuchman as Go-To-Hell Kitty, and Ed Gotthelf as Fred Casely, though truly, every member of the ensemble deserves praise.

Of course, though, there’s no “Chicago” without Velma and Roxie. Floyd and Frieden make a formidable pair of leading ladies. Between the two, Frieden’s wide-eyed Roxie is without question the standout. She is an astoundingly well-rounded performer who is just as comfortable dancing Fosse as she is hamming it up in the show’s comedic bits, and more often than not, taking every chance to add gags to songs where possible.

She plays particularly well off the two leading men in her life. Billy Flynn and her frumpy, well-meaning husband Amos (Brian Kalinowski) are both comic powerhouses, the latter of whom probably nabbed the most laughs-per-capita of the entire cast.

Granted, the production isn’t without its flaws. At times, it felt as if Floyd was marking the choreography, especially noticeable during “Hot Honey Rag”, where she’s performing the exact same steps with Frieden next to her, and the aforementioned technical issues did leave the vocals of the first few numbers feeling a little underwhelming. But if mic problems are the biggest flaw I can find with this production, that is a testament to the across-the-board strength of the cast and creative team. The national tour of “Chicago” is a worthy incarnation of a broadway classic.