�CHICAGO�: For Fosse fans, it doesn�t get� better than this
BY TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor
June 7, 2007 - There’s nothing better than an evening spent watching exceptional dancers interpret a Bob Fosse musical.
Fosse’s “Chicago” opened at the Dallas Summer Musicals Tuesday night to an enthusiastic audience who gave the hardworking gypsies (dancers) a warm Lone Star State welcome. With good cause. The troupe was incredible.
Fosse created the 1975 musical as a gift to his wife, Gwen Verdon, a gypsy herself. According to Playbill, the play, which re-opened on Number 14, 1996, is the longest-running revival in Broadway history.
From the overture to the final curtain call, the show is unmistakably Fosse.
The girls get to strut their stuff in “Cell Block Tango,” while the boys do a stunning job on “Tap Dance,” complete with bowler hats, shuffling steps and Fosse’s trademark cigarette hanging from their lips. Talk about a tour de force.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the casting of Lisa Rinna as Roxie Hart. Rinna has more going for her than overly-augmented lips. The girl can sing. She’s no Betty Buckley or Patti LuPone, but she held her own against some pretty strong pipes.
However, the real story here should be Terra C. MacLeod, the show stealing Velma Kelly.
You don’t need to search her website, ww.terracmacleod.com, to know the kid’s been dancing all her life, nor does it take long to realize she’s performed more than her share of Fosse-inspired numbers.
Terra C. MacLeod
She starred in Fosse’s “Damn Yankees” and she’s very comfortable in Velma’s skin, having played her on Broadway and throughout Europe.
MacLeod is a dancer’s dancer, with a board-straight back, squared-off shoulders and legs that go on for weeks. And, she knows how to make all the body parts work to her advantage.
From the other side of the footlights, it looks like doing a Fosse number is a piece of cake. Wrong. They just make it look easy.
It takes control and years of training to deliver Fosse’s choreography. The numbers are a string of complicated steps nestled between a series of body-conscious poses. Arms and legs are stretched to their max. Kicks aren’t just waist level, they’re astronomical flights of fancy that would hamstring even a Kilgore Rangerette.
While the dancers’ bodies are wound tight as drums, their hands must be almost liquid. Put a hula dancer’s hands on the end of a broomstick and you get the picture. They don’t call ’em “Fosse hands” for nothing.
� This production is well cast. There is not a weak hoofer in the company and all of them execute Fosse�s signature moves with seeming ease.
� If you attend the show, pay particular attention to the company during the overture to the second act. They preen, pose, stretch and try to out-Fosse each other with every note. It�s hysterical.
� Carol Woods does a great turn as� Mama Morton, the prison matron. Her big number, �When You�re Good to Mama�� literally stopped the show.
� R. Bean�s Mary Sunshine seemed a bit shrill, but there�s a reason, revealed during the show�s climactic courtroom scene.
It’s hard not to use the brilliant performance turned in by John C. Reilly in the 2002 film as the standard for Roxie’s long-suffering husband, Amos. However, Eric Leviton won over the crowd and received a warm ovation for his earnest performance and his bright interpretation of “Mister Cellophane.”
�� Tom Wopat, of �Dukes of Hazzard�� fame plays attorney Billy Flynn with little or no enthusiasm, but it�s okay. MacLeod, Rinna and those fabulous dancers do enough enchanting for three Billy Flynns.