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First time for ‘Chicago’ at Allenberry Playhouse

September 2, 2012
By JACK FELIX - Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

BOILING SPRINGS - "Give an act with lots of flash in it and the reaction will be passionate."

And when Allenberry Playhouse's "Chicago" gives two acts with "Razzle Dazzle," the audience's reaction at a recent matinee was a deserved standing ovation.

Allenberry's production of Broadway's all-time "killer hit," "Chicago" has matinee and evening performances Tuesdays through Sundays now through Sept. 16.

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Allenberry’s production of “Chicago” has matinee and evening performances Tuesdays through Sundays now through Sept. 16.

The Kinder and Ebb musical, set in Prohibition-era Chicago, is a kiss-and-tell-all tale of corruption and celebrity justice.

Roxie Hart, a chorus girl, kills her lover and turns to slick lawyer Billy Flynn to save her neck - literally. Competing for Billy's undivided attention and the public spotlight is Velma Kelly, a dancing jailbird, also hungry for headlines.

With a score that often gets feet tapping, "Chicago" is perhaps best-known because of its choreography from the legendary Bob Fosse.

Although Roxie, Velma and Billy are the principals, the energetic ensemble, including the inmates of the Cook County Jail faultlessly execute the many dance numbers, including "Cell Block Tango," as they sneer and sing, "He Had It Coming!"

Artistic Director Rogue Berlanga, in noting that Allenberry has not been previously produced "Chicago" in its 64 seasons, has "pulled out all the stops" to create a memorable show. And memorable it is!

Excellent acting and singing from the competing jailbirds, Sara Brophy as Velma Kelly and Andrea Rouch as Roxie Hart with Actors Equity's John Heinis (Captain Von Trapp in Allenberry's "The Sound of Music") as the hot shot lawyer Billy Flynn.

Getting laughs and the most applause was the cleverly staged "We Both Reached for the Gun" as Billy manipulates Roxie on his lap as an ventriloguist's dummy.

Katie Mc Creary is featured as the favor-seeking warden ("When You're Good to Mama") and Sean Riley as Amos, the good-natured, downtrodden husband, gets ah's and applause singing "Mister Cellophane." And as a common casting choice, K. Roets, playing the reporter Mary Sunshine, is finally revealed to be a male.

Music Director Shawn J. Boldac and the band are onstage playing the "All The Jazz"-infused score as the cast dances and prances between the bedroom, prison, courtroom and nightclub.

Clearly, one of the main elements of this show's success is Dann Dunn's choreography, infused with Fosse's sensual stamp and hand movements.

Special kudos to the lighting designers for striking patterns that accentuate the positive. And just about everything is positive with this production. A fast-moving 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission, Allenberry 's version entertainingly recreates the classic original with both an edge and flair.

"Chicago" is sharp and snappy and sizzling - and not to be missed. For more information, call 717-258-3211.

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