Alicia Bronzetti as accused murderess Roxie Hart and Ben Sills as flashy attorney Billy Flynn act out a fantasy courtroom scene in the CNY Playhouse production of “Chicago” running through July 1, at the ShoppingTown Mall. Bronzetti will alternate the role of Roxie with actress Korrie Taylor. (Amelia Beamish Photo)
The Roaring Twenties murder musical “Chicago” pits two jailhouse femme fatales — the rookie Roxie Hart and the hardened husband-killer Velma Kelly — against each other in a race toward acquittal and the fame to follow. Along the way they vie for the attention of flamboyant defense attorney Billy Flynn while dodging the demands of jail matron Big Mama.
The passion-murder plot based on a 1926 play by newspaperwoman Maurine Dallas Watkins comes complete with infidelity, duplicity, incarceration issues and shameless manipulation of the media.
While the satirically sordid story pulls audiences in, the show by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and John Kander reaches its zenith with a handful of celebrated songs and plenty of fancy dancing.
But Roxie is the best reason to catch the current production at CNY Playhouse.
On opening night, June 16, actress-singer Alicia Rose Bronzetti brought a conspicuous joie de vivre to the role. Her Roxie may be a cold-blooded killer, but she’ll melt your heart with a warm smile, declare her innocence with batting eyelashes and — when she sings — the clouds part and the sun comes shining through.
Along the way, Bronzetti also displays a deft feel for humor. Laughs filled the theater when Flynn — well-portrayed by dependable Ben Sills — plays the part of a ventriloquist and Roxie plays the dummy in the courtroom scene, “We Both Reached for the Gun,” as Sills and Bronzetti achieve a potent comic chemistry.
Bronzetti is a professional singer and vocal instructor, which explains her pitch-perfect delivery, bell-like tone and playful phrasing.
Musical Director Abel Searor — who interacts casually from his piano bench with several of the main characters — conducts a capable combo of 10 via a video monitor. He’s set up high at stage left while the musicians are positioned above and behind the main stage action.
Sound was a problem on opening night perhaps due in part to director Dustin Czarny’s failure to remind the overflow audience to turn off their cell phones. After he did so at intermission, however, the wireless microphones noticeably improved in Act 2.
Despite the technical glitches, the CNY Playhouse cast forged on gamely, and we heard marvelous renditions of “All That Jazz,” featuring Erin Sills as Velma, “When You’re Good to Mama” belted out by a Michaela Oney and “Mr. Cellophane” sung by Roxie’s cuckolded husband, Amos, humbly portrayed by Josh Mele.
Bronzetti’s best numbers included “Funny Honey,” “Tap Dance” and “Me and My Baby.” She sings two duets with Erin Sills, cementing a cool alliance between Roxie and Velma on “My Own Best Friend” and “Nowadays,” before boiling over on “Hot Honey Rag.”
Cross-dresser Dan Williams turns in a memorable tour de force as gossip columnist Mary Sunshine singing “A Little Bit of Good,” and red-headed leading man Ben Sills has his moment in the spotlight with “Razzle Dazzle.”
Dancer Amy Zubieta not only bangs the boards but also brings a bit of pathos to the proceedings as Hunyak, a Hungarian immigrant inmate who bravely faces the inevitable noose.
Based on Fosse’s original choreography, the dynamic dancing here is directed by Shannon Tompkins and Stephfod Brunson. The ensemble showcases singing and dancing by performers such as Brunson, Alicia Cobb, Leila Dean, Chris Lupia and Korrie Taylor — all fully capable of playing main roles, and some of them will do so in this run as two almost entirely different casts will present the award-winning musical through July 1.
Just two members of the cast of two dozen will appear in all performances, Ben Sills and Josh Mele. The crimson-coiffed Korrie Taylor takes over as Roxie June 25, 29 and at 2 p.m. July 1, and Shannon Tompkins portrays Velma June 22, 30 and at 2 p.m. July 1.
“Chicago,” produced by Robert Searle, runs at 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday June 25, and 8 p.m. June 29 and 30, and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, July 1, at CNY Playhouse, located near the Macy’s entrance at on the second level of ShoppingTown Mall, in DeWitt. Please note, the June 22 show is sold out. Tickets cost $25 on Thursday and Sunday and $28 on Friday and Saturday; cnyplayhouse.org; 315-885-8960.
Nov 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018
Nov 13, 2018