Tuesday, April 10, 2007
After a decade on Broadway, Walter Bobbie's production of Kander and Ebb's tale of sex, jazz and murder in the Windy City is starting to blow. All of the wonderfully venomous cynicism that used to seep through the show is gone; the formerly biting social commentary about a country where the judicial system is one big floor show and freedom can be bought (for a price) is now played with quaint antiquity by an ensemble that seem to be bored out of their ever-loving minds (and they're not the only ones). Formerly full-proof numbers like "Cell Block Tango" and "We Both Reached for the Gun" just lay there on stage, as flat as Dakota Fanning's chest. It doesn't help that a number of the current principles are unevenly cast, including the usually wonderful Bebe Neuwirth as Roxie. She gives the role 110%, but she's still completely miscast; she doesn't possess any of the wide-eyed giddiness that distinguishes Roxie from cold, glib Velma. Add to that Philip Casnoff's cloying Billy Flynn and Rob Bartlett rushing through Amos as if he had a train to catch and you don't end up with much. However, there are two bright spots in the current company: Roz Ryan is a scream as Mama Morton, and the ever-astounding Brenda Braxton is the best Velma since, well...Bebe. They shine even when everything around them is falling flat.