The reviews are in and it’s a winning headline for moonlights production of Chicago. The show, which closes out their 38th season, is a wonder of dazzle and pizazz that would make Kander and Ebb proud. Steve Glaudini and the rest of the moonlight team hit it out of the park with this production that is the highlight of their season.
The opening of Chicago delivers a stylized performance that epitomizes classic stage musicals. A song and dance of delight to the eyes. James Vásquez and Terra MacLeod co-direct this production with clear and crisp staging, an homage to the original material millions across the globe have come to love. The staging, combined with choreography by Corey Wright, complete the picture.And nothing is more American-musical than Fosse dancing, something so elegant and graceful.
The story centers on fake news of sorts, something that in today’s America seems to be the go to word for politicians in retreat. In this case it’s 1920s Prohibition Era Chicago and murders, murders, murders or even just the twisted tales of murders. As attorney Billy Flynn says, “Give ’em the old razzle dazzle / Razzle dazzle ’em.”
We’re introduced to the beautiful Roxie Hart (Terra C. MacLeod), who is in the midst of a love affair gone awry, when she shoots and kills her lover. The result is jail with the possible consequences of being hung. That sets up the story long adversarial relationship between her and Velma Kelly (Roxanne Carrasco), another one of the mistresses on murder row.
Those murdering mistresses, of which there are many, are introduced to us in one of the highlight songs of the musical, “Cell Block Tango.” Carraaco, alongside her fellow murder mistresses, sings to us all about their deadly run ins with those they once loved through incredible song and choreography from Wright.
So how do these mistresses obtain counsel to help them get out of their situations? Look no further than Mama Morton (Regina LeVert) who belts it to the back of the theater with such soulfulness in her starring number, “When Your Good to Mamma.” Appearing through the performance, LeVert is the glue who helps Roxy and Velma see their reality.
Billy Flynn (David Engel) is the Gloria Allrad of the ’20s. A lawyer quick to acknowledge the press and how they can shape the story through the spectacle of their reporting. Engel as always delivers a performance fit for each part that he takes on. A flashy, whimsical bravado encompasses each song, including his indulgent performance of, “All I Care About.”
Mamma Morton (LeVert) brings together Roxie Hart with the silver-tongued chanter of the courtroom that is Flynn. In the number, “We Both Reached for the Gun,” Engel and MacLeod, two amazing talents, click to deliver a show stopping number.
The stand-out of the production was certainly Amos (Randall Hickman), the character who’s never in the minds of really anyone and is oft forgotten. In his showcasing number, “Mr. Cellophane,” Hickman brings down the house as he sings the lines ‘Cause you can look right through me / Walk right by me and never know I’m there!’ Except in this case do you see him and love every moment he is on the stage. Hickman is always the actor you can depend on to bring it all to each character he plays and you’ll love him in this role.
Not to be out done, the muscle bound male ensemble complete the production with their epic dance numbers. These jazzed up dancers help illuminate the stories of the mistresses of murder row. One of the ensemble members (Jacob Narcy) delivers a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment during the courtroom scene when Roxie takes the stand. So don’t blink!
Just as Roxie and Velma must make it work in the end…what definitely works are the talents of Moonlight and those involved with this production. Under the baton of Kenneth Gammie, the band delivers a rousing performance. Better still, this time you can see them play throughout the show on the bandstand center stage. The set design setup from Plan-B Entertainment has the stage set up like a classic cabaret showcasing the entire cast. Jennifer Edwards’ lighting design enhances scene after scene from the opening reveal in “Cell Block Tango” to show stopping final number.
Moonlight Stage announced the Chicago cast debuting many new actors along with several favorites making their return for the musical.
Terra C. MacLeod, currently starring in the Broadway production of CHICAGO as Velma, takes on the role of Roxie at The Moonlight. Roxane Carrasco, playing Velma at The Moonlight, has played the same starring role in the Broadway production. Fellow Broadway vet David Engel returns to The Moonlight stage as Billy Flynn.
As Matron “Mama” Morton, keeper of the jailhouse keys, Regina LeVert makes her Moonlight debut. Longtime Moonlight favorite and San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel award-winner Randall Hickman takes on the role of Amos Hart (aka Mr. Cellophane), Roxie’s husband who agrees to take the blame for her crime. Elle H. Jacobs is Mary Sunshine and the cast is rounded out by Danielle Airey, Nicole Athill, Kalin Booker, Edgar Cardoso, Deborah Fauerbach, Tad Fujioka, Danny Hansen, Ty Koeller, Jacob Narcy, Tamara Rodriguez, Matthew Ryan, Amy Beth Schmiedel, and Tim Stokel.
The creative team for Chicago includes Co-Director Terra C. MacLeod and James Vásquez, Corey Wright, recently appearing in the Broadway national tour production of CHICAGO, choreographs while JD Dumas is musical director and Kenneth Gammie is conductor. Scenery Designer Plan-B Entertainment, Costume Designers Roz Lehman and Renetta Lloyd, Lighting Designer Jennifer Edwards, Sound Designer Jim Zadai, Wigs Designer Peter Herman, Make-up Designer Gabe Nunez, Properties Coordinator Bonnie Durben, and Stage Manager Stanley D. Cohen.
Chicago: Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb; Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Single tickets for Moonlight Stage production of Chicago range from $17 – $57. There are discounts for Seniors and Students and military. For tickets contact The Moonlight Amphitheatre at 760-724-2110 or visit the Moonlight Stage Productions Ticket Website.
Sptember 12 – September 29, 2018
Gates open at 6:00 p.m.
Curtain at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $17 – $57.
The Moonlight Amphitheatre is located at 1200 Vale Terrace Dr, Vista, CA 92084
Take the Civic Center Drive and exit off Highway 78, go north. Turn right on E Vista Way. Turn right on Vale Terrace. Continue on Vale Terrace about 1/2 mile and turn left into Brengle Terrace Park.
Parking at Moonlight Amphitheatre
There is free parking available at Brengle Terrace Park. Shuttle service is available for those who end up parking in the upper grass lot. The shuttle will begin running 2.5 hours before the show starts as well as after the show.
For more information and tickets call The Moonlight Amphitheatre at 760-724-2110 or visit The Moonlight Stage Production website.