‘Chicago’ arrives in L.A.; Geffen presents ‘Stage Kiss’

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In 1997, Kander and Ebb’s razzle dazzle smash hit musical “Chicago” garnered six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show revolves around a merry murderess named Roxie Hart, who bumps off her lover when he tries to walk out on her. Filled with hit after hit and dance numbers created by Bob Fosse, the show still packs a punch.

In 1997, Kander and Ebb’s razzle dazzle smash hit musical “Chicago” garnered six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show revolves around a merry murderess named Roxie Hart, who bumps off her lover when he tries to walk out on her. Filled with hit after hit and dance numbers created by Bob Fosse, the show still packs a punch.

Based on actual gals who were cutie killers during the decadent 1920s, the story centers on two fatal femmes named Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. In this current production Roxie is played by Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Brandy Norwood who has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. Terra C. MacLeod co-stars as Velma Kelly. Besides being newsworthy killers, Roxie and Velma share the same smarmy lawyer, Billy Flynn (Eddie George, NFL star now actor/singer).

The show begins with “All That Jazz,” a big song and dance number  performed by Vilma and company—and what a way to start. The onstage orchestra, conducted by Rob Bowman, also provides plenty of razzle dazzle from beginning to end as they play countless musical gems like “When You’re Good to Mama” belted out by Roz Ryan as the prison matron “Mama” Morton. Ryan holds a unique Broadway record, having played more performances of “Chicago” than any other leading actress in the show’s historic 18-year run. Paul C Vogt is also totally endearing as Roxie’s funny honey nebish of a husband, Amos. He garnered thunderous applause when he sang Amos Hart’s anthem to anonymity, “Mister Cellophane.”

“Chicago” at the Pantages from May 31 to June 19; for tickets and information call 1-800-982-2787 or order online at www.HollywoodPantages.com or www.Ticketmaster.com. Come meet those dancing feet when the dazzling musical hit “42nd Street” comes to the Pantages. Great music, great dancing, great fun.

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“Stage Kiss,” written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Bart DeLorenzo, is actually two plays within a play. It begins on a bare stage as a rather inept director (Tim Bagley) is casting actors for ”The Last Kiss,” a truly dreadful Broadway flop from the 1930s about two lovers who are reunited. Glenne Headly (She) has come to audition for the female lead. To her surprise Barry Del Sherman (He) shows up to play the male lead. Like the characters in the play within the play, they two had once been lovers. During the course of rehearsals their romantic spark of yesteryear is reignited. But will it work this time?  And if it does, how will that affect her husband and Del Sherman’s current girlfriend, a school teacher?

Stephen Caffrey, in a dual role, plays both the actor playing the stage husband in “Last Kiss” as well as Headley’s very practical real life hubby. They have been married for years and have a teen-aged daughter.

The first part of “Stage Kiss” is the most enjoyable as we watch the revamped 1930s play come to life. Caffrey’s overly campy death scene as the “stage” husband is hilarious. He is also very endearing as Headley’s steady, practical real life hubby, who doesn’t want to lose his wife to the charming ‘has been’ actor (Del Sharman). But is their renewed love, like a staged play, more of an illusion than a reality?

If you have ever been in a play yourself you will especially enjoy the first act as the cast works on a bare stage. Eventually the show “The Last Kiss” springs to life with costumes and a period set. This aspect of the show is lots of fun, but the renewed romance between Headley and Del Sherman is less involving. Also, the second staged play within the play, is far less entertaining than the 1930s bomb which was delightfully dopey in Act 1.

Matthew Scott Montgomery, is amusing as the male understudy who is gay and finds it hard to make even pretend love to Headley whenever he has to step in during rehearsal..

“Stage Kiss,” at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave, L.A.,through May 15. Running time 2 hours, 20 minutes. For tickets and information call 310-208-5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.com