Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 20, 2010


Theater Guild, Hampden, MA
Through March 27, 2010
By Shera Cohen

Just about everyone is familiar with the musical "Chicago." Many have seen it onstage, most at the movies. It's a simple story about female crooks, in familiar settings of 1920's gangster-era Chicago, with caricature roles. Why is the play so popular? All of the above, plus lots of "Razzle Dazzle," sexy women in black teddies, and dance, dance, and more dance.

What is not simple, however, is mounting this musical in a country club - the Theater Guild's venue is a bit unusual setting. On a proscenium stage, "Chicago" is a tough show to present. Take away the usual three walls, entrances, exits, backstage and replace them with the floor which is level with the audience, dining tables nearly abutting each other, a bar in the rear of the room, and mounting "Chicago" must surely have been a nightmare. Bravo to director Mark Giza for even considering the task, let alone taking it on.

He was not alone in his decision and dedication to do the work necessary for a successful production. The cast of 20 and band of five pulled it off. Best about "Chicago" is the choreography. Kathleen Delaney moved her dancers with her own spin on Bob Fosse - lots of arms and fingers spread apart. She and the troupe made it look easy, even while dancing in, on, and around dozens of chairs.

In lead roles are Kiernan Rushford (Roxy), a solid singer who can also dance well; and Aileen Terzi (Velma), an excellent dancer who can also sing. The pair balanced nicely. Many performers had their moments to shine - Jonathan Trecker's "All I Care About," Andrew Gilbert's "Mr. Cellophane," and Tracey Hebert's "When You're Good to Mama." Hebert is a natural with a commanding voice and comfortable stage presence. There are also some casting surprises.

The picturesque view and the pleasant meal that precede the performance add to the evening's enjoyment. However, unless tickets have already been ordered, by the time of reading this review, it is, unfortunately, too late to go to "Chicago." This little theatre troupe has the enviable problem of a sell out run.