You gotta have Hart

Chicago hits the Toronto stage

There were so many reasons to see Chicago when it came through town last year, and now, all those reasons are moot because of one stellar reason – Chita Rivera.

For every boy or girl with a song in their DNA, Chita Rivera should be on the top of your list of things to see. Whatever star quality is, she’s got it and she’s spreadin’ it around.

Stripped to the essentials – minimal set and, oh yeah baby, minimal costumes – this production is funny, sexy and truly black hearted.

The cast is strong and deliciously larger than life. Marcia Lewis recreates her Tony-Award-winning performance as Mama Morton, the diesel powered dynamo. Ernie Sabella as Amos Hart sings a mean “Mr Cellophane” and Michael Berresse as lawyer Billy Flynn is an oil slick.

Truly delightful, Stephanie Pope as Velma Kelly is long, tall, lean and beautiful. She uses her magnificence to awe inspiring effect. Vavoom.

And Chita as Roxie Hart – splendid!

Unfortunately, the pairing of Rivera and Pope as attention seeking rivals in a women’s prison doesn’t work. So stylistically different are the two, it’s impossible to see them as threats to each other. Do apples square off against oranges?

But this musical’s payload is so rich that it’s worth going the extra distance, doing a little math, and making it all work out in your head.

Chicago continues at the Princess Of Wales Theatre (300 King St W) till Fri, Feb 26. Tix are $20 to $93; call (416) 872-1212.

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TV & Film, Culture, Theatre, Toronto, Arts

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