Monday, 4 July 2016

That's Chicago

Lining up to get into the theatre to watch Chicago for a matinee show
You can't go to New York without seeing a show. The hottest ticket these past few years has been Tony award-winning Hamilton, which goes up to the thousands of dollars. There is a lottery draw every day for cheap tickets, but apparently 7 million people take part in it everyday so the chances of winning are really slim.

The show that used to be the most popular in town before Hamilton was Book of Mormon and those tickets have now dropped to US$145 each, but we opted for even cheaper tickets to see Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre.

The orchestra took up most of the stage
I'd seen a live performance many years ago in Hong Kong and then saw the Oscar-winning film starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

So while the story line was a bit fuzzy, we still remembered many of the songs.

The stage in this theatre was very small -- so small that the orchestra took up a big chunk of the stage sitting stadium style. As a result the performers didn't have much of a set to work with, and even interacted with the conductor to connect the music with the characters.

However, the performers were very strong, which made up for the very small stage. The two women who played Roxie Hart (Charlotte d'Amboise) was vibrant and amusing, while Velma Kelly (Amra-Faye Wright) was fun and bitchy.

Jaime Camil after the show signing autographs
They were both in jail for killing men, and their lawyer, the slick Billy Flynn was performed by Jaime Camil, who is considered a very well-known actor in the Spanish-speaking world.

This was apparent after the show, when many fans waited outside for him to come out and sign autographs and have his picture taken.

Because the stage was so small, the performers couldn't do much choreographed dancing which was a pity, and so it was important to know the story line well. Perhaps the best scene was Billy Flynn acting like a ventriloquist using Roxie Hart as a puppet mouthing his words during a press conference to give her side of the story.

The actors added a few witty words here and there or fun body language to keep the script fresh, and the conductor was also a character in the show.

He got lots of applause for his performance
The ending was anti-climactic, with the two women singing and dancing together, but nothing too complicated. Nevertheless we still enjoyed the show, about revenge, greed, ego and sex.

Ambassador Theatre
219 West 49th Street
New York
(212) 239 6200

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