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Chicago breezes in

Though set in the '20s, the musical's themes could have been lifted from today's newspaper. The show opens tonight at Plahouse 19.

By JORGE SANCHEZ, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002


"Welcome ladies and gentlemen. . . . You are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption violence and adultery.

All the things we hold dear to our hearts."

-- Excerpt from Chicago

* * *

Entertainers accused of killings, a media-savvy lawyer and a bloodthirsty pack of reporters. Is this the latest court roundup on the TV news? Nope, it's the Broadway play Chicago, which starts its stretch at Playhouse 19 tonight.

Chicago focuses on pair of killers: Roxie Hart (Patti Cyr) and Velma Kelly (Katie Lucas). They're both in the Chicago slammer, but the jail house bars don't seem to stop them from fighting for celebrity headlines and the affections of their superlawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Flury).

The play has jail and courthouse scenes, accompanied by songs such as Cell Block Tango, When You're Good To Momma and We Both Reached for the Gun.

Director Jim Davis said the play appealed to him the first time he saw it.

"I first saw it when it was on Broadway, and I've wanted to get it done here ever since," Davis said. "We've got a lot of surprises that I'm sure the audience will like the performance."

The play features a four-piece orchestra, a first for Playhouse 19, which usually uses a piano accompanist for its musicals.

"We got a really good cast, but they've also been working very hard on the song and dance numbers," he said.

Davis said the play, which takes place in the 1920s, still has themes that are very much in the news today.

"Jazz music and fashion were in the spotlight back then, much as they are now," Davis said. "Jazz was probably as controversial as rap is, and fashion is always making news."

And let's not forget the media sensation caused first by the O.J. Simpson trial and now the Robert Blake case.

Other Chicago cast members include con man Fred Casely (Jeff Erickson); Roxie's husband, Amos (Greg Wilker); District Attorney Harrison (Charlie Kylis); and Warden Mama Morton (Monica Tichauer). Other supporting roles are performed by Amy Easter and Jim Farley.

At a glance:

The musical Chicago will be performed Thursday through Sunday until June 30 at Playhouse 19, 865 U.S. 19 S, Crystal River. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15. Call 563-1333.

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