Chicago, the popular musical by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, thrilled audiences during its opening weekend at the Village Theatre in Issaquah. Chicago follows the stories of two celebrity criminals, Roxie Hart (Taryn Darr), who shot her lover, and Velma Kelly (Desiree Davar), who murdered her husband. They battle each other for press coverage and vie for the attention of their lawyer, Billy Flynn (Timothy McCuen Piggee), with the ultimate goal of being found not guilty and riding their stardom to showbiz success. Filled with brilliant dance numbers inspired by the original choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and packed with such classic songs as â€˜All That Jazz,’ â€˜Roxie,’ and â€˜Razzle Dazzle,’ Chicago is sure to please audiences for the remainder of its run.
Chicago made its Broadway debut in 1975 and has seen success as a revival and also as a movie. So what makes the Village Theatre production so special? Its stellar cast. Piggee perfectly nails the fast talking smarmy Billy Flynn while managing to make the audience love him despite his less than honest ways. Piggee has a beautifully rich voice and a commanding stage presence making him ideally suited for the part. I have seen Piggee on stages throughout Seattle and even seen him play an alien without a costume in a stage reading at the Village Originals production of The Last Starfighter. Piggee did not need a costume to make you believe he was an alien because he is just that good. With gorgeous costumes and dazzling sets as his backdrop, Piggee shines in Chicago.
It may seem ironic to say that Richard Gray stands out as Amos Hart, Roxie’s all but invisible husband, but that is just what he does. Hart is easily manipulated by his scheming wife, but as pathetic as he may be, you cannot help but root for him because of Gray’s earnest portrayal. Both Darr and Davar are great as the two female leads with their strong voices and dancing, although in a couple areas where they were singing in unison, they were not always in unison pitch-wise, but that is a very minor quibble in an otherwise terrific production.