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Review: ‘Chicago’ at The Kennedy Center

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Grammy Award-winning, R & B superstar Brandy Norwood brought her razzle and dazzle to the Kennedy Center’s Opera House, reprising her Broadway debut as “Roxie Hart” in the touring production of Chicago.

Brandy as Roxie Hart. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Hailed as the longest-running American musical in Broadway’s history, Chicago returns to DC complete with Norwood’s plumb exuberance and luminous vocals for a limited engagement through April 16th (at the Kennedy Center for the first time in its decades of touring).

Brimming with catchy, pulsating music by John Kander and Fred Ebb and boosted by sexy, electrifying dance numbers fashioned by Bob Fosse’s original choreography, appositely accompanied by a 11-piece, on-stage orchestra (led by Musical Conductor Rob Bowman), Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer/aspiring vaudeville star in the late 1920s who murders her lover after he threatens to leave her.

Steered by the consummate direction of David Hyslop and strikingly-styled choreography by David Bushman, the jazz-era musical is reinvigorated with the sultry soulfulness of Norwood’s voice (particularly in her smoky rendering of “Funny Honey” and “Roxie”) coupled with standout performances throughout, most prominently by Terra C. MacLeod’s fiercely brash Velma Kelly (with her captivating delivery of the opening number,“All That Jazz” and, in Act II, with her spectacular acrobatic dancing in “I Can’t Do it Alone”) and Brent Barrett’s impeccable portrayal of egocentric attorney Billy Flynn (who commanded every scene with his gallant presence and rich baritone spotlighted in “All I Care About” and “Razzle Dazzle”).

Brandy Norwood, Denny Paschall, left, and Michael Scirrotto. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Rounding out the multi-talented ensemble were Roz Ryan as Matron “Mama” Morton who shined in her signature solo, “When You’re Good to Mama”, with seasoned gusto and verve; Paul Vogt as Roxie’s unassuming husband, Amos Hart, who revealed a stirring rendition of “Mister Cellophane”;  and C. Newcomer as gleeful reporter, Mary Sunshine, who showcased a demonstrative duality and impressive vocal range in “A Little Bit of Good”.

Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great? Isn’t it swell? Absolutely!

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 20-minute intermission.

Chicago plays through April 16, 2017, at The Kennedy Center’s Opera House Theater – 2700 F Street, in Washington, DC.  For tickets, call (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.

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