Excellent cast shines in Welk Theatre’s ‘Chicago’
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
A well-performed version of the musical “Chicago” is playing at the Welk Theatre through June 2.
Set in 1929 Chicago, the show most appropriate for mature audiences focuses on the sensational-story driven media which glamorized accused criminals and turned them into celebrities who could get away with crimes — even murder — if enough public sympathy was achieved by a slick defense attorney.
The show opens with Velma Kelly (Broadway veteran Natalie Nucci), who has all the headlines for killing her husband and sister for having an affair. But when the unhappily married Roxie Hart (Adrienne Storrs in her Welk debut) kills her lover, the spotlight shifts from Kelly to Hart before either goes to trial and can cash in on their notoriety.
Though Hart grabs all the headlines for awhile — much to Kelly’s dismay — Hart must devise a new way to stay there since an heiress accused of murder starts to take her fame away before her trial begins.
Defending the accused murderesses is Billy Flynn (played by Randall Dodge who earlier this year starred in the Welk’s production of “South Pacific”). Flynn, along with the prison matron known as “Mama” (Welk veteran Valerie Geason), are out for themselves, looking for every chance to make money and not caring about truth or justice.
Dodge shines in the role, especially in the numbers “All I Care About,” “We Both Reached for the Gun” — where he is the ventriloquist voice for Roxie, and “Razzle Dazzle.”
While Nucci and Storrs do well in their respective roles, Nucci is clearly the stronger performer of the two so they seemed slightly mismatched since the story revolves around Storrs’ character, even though it could be argued their two characters share lead status. Nucci impressively shined in all her dance numbers, starting with the opening “All That Jazz” and continuing through the show’s conclusion that featured a duet for Nucci and Storrs.
Among other notable highlights was the “Cell Block Tango” that was well-staged by director and choreographer Ray Limon, now with his 25th Welk production. His staging allowed each of the six performers — Nucci plus five ensemble members — to showcase their talents as they sang their individual tales of murder.
RC Sands playing tabloid columnist Mary Sunshine in his Welk debut was also enjoyable and funny while singing in falsetto, though because is obvious Sands is in drag, his reveal near the show’s conclusion lacked the element of surprise.
“Chicago” can be seen at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, plus 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays through June 2 at the Welk Theatre, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive in Escondido. Parking is free.
Tickets start at $45, with a meal option available. Groups of 10-plus may receive a discount. Purchase at www.welkresorts.com or by calling 888-802-7469.
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