If you’re looking for a sinfully delicious romp, look no further than the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, where Dark Horse Company Theatre is currently staging a sizzling production of the hit musical “Chicago.”
Top of Utah theatergoers are sure to recognize a number of Weber State University students — past and present — in a cast that knows how to have a good time and isn’t afraid to show it.
Among the WSU alum is Dark Horse co-founder Ginger Bess, who has an attitude and the vocal chops to match her fiery red hairdo as the fame-seeking Roxie Hart. The famous Kander and Ebb musical revolves around the vaudeville wannabee who lands in jail after killing her lover in a rage.
In jail, Roxie finds herself surrounded by an assortment of unsavory but delightfully wicked characters, including the jail matron played by Camille Van Wagoner. Without going over the top in “When You’re Good to Mama,” Van Wagoner belts out a sassy blend of comedy and sexiness in the provocative number. As Roxie’s nemesis Velma Kelly, Erin Royal Carlson obviously knows how to strut her stuff in “I Can’t Do It Alone” and hit the right notes in “I Know a Girl.”
The show really gets moving during “We Both Reached for the Gun,” in which slick lawyer Billy Flynn, played by WSU grad Kim Blackett, skillfully puppeteers an all-too-eager press corps led by the tabloid columnist Mary Sunshine, played to sexually confusing delight by Eric Brotherson. Bess’ wide-eyed kewpie-doll expressions and adept choreography by WSU grad William Richardson made that number one of the show’s standouts.
Bess was also fun to watch and having the time of her life surrounded by her “boys” in “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby.” The latter number was not included in the 2002 film and includes a truly laugh-out-loud moment when Roxie’s boys get in touch with their infantile side.
While it is not perfect and stumbled in a few spots, the ambitious production is definitely worth seeing. For fans of the movie who haven’t seen the stage version, the Dark Horse show offers a rare opportunity in Utah to see the musical in its original form.
The stage version includes the insightfully funny number “Class,” cut out of the movie, in which Velma and the Matron raucously lament the deplorable state of society. The stage version also has an extremely theatrical and darkly satirical courtroom scene in which the wheels of justice are turned into a vaudeville act — literally.
Roxie, Velma, Billy and most everyone else in the show may have hard little hearts, but a character who makes up for that is Roxie’s long-suffering schmuck of a husband, Amos (not “Andy,” as he has to keep reminding Billy Flynn) — played to perfection by WSU grad Andrew Nadon.
In the heartbreaking number “Mr. Cellophane,” Nadon truly dazzles in the spotlight.
But in the world of “Chicago,” heart is for suckers and doesn’t get you headlines or win you fame and fortune — all of the things that really matter in America as this satirical show so painfully — and joyfully — points out.