Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicago the Musical: Sensationally Sexy!!!

The moment that lanky, leggy woman sauntered up on stage, with that single spotlight illuminating her scantily clad, super toned body, I knew Chicago the Musical was unapologetically in a class of its own. My first thought? Boy, they sure know how to grab someone's attention!

Stan & I were privileged to catch the Opening Gala of Chicago on Tuesday night, three days before we were scheduled to meet the cast for an interview. I wasn't sure what to expect from an Australian cast, to be honest. After all, Chicago is such an all-American production, isn't it? The set, the accents, the jazz & choreography... just the whole genre of that era. Can an Australian cast really pull it off?

Besides, I dozed off watching the 2002 movie of Chicago, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellwegger and Richard Gere... *bashful* And it had won 6 Oscars, including Best Picture!

But one consolation was this: Chicago was originally written for the stage, and so I believe on stage would be where the magic & splendour would happen!

After all, Hollywood always takes what's best on Broadway and spins it into a movie. But somehow, even the movie Rent was nowhere close to the stage version I caught in Nashville, Tennessee. So there was hope...

With that mindset, I went to Chicago the Musical at the Esplanade Theatre. And I have to tell you: I was completely blown away! It was witty, wicked and very, very sexy. The cast was completely believable with their American accents (not like a certain recent production where accents were all awry!), and the dancing was visually captivating.

In fact, everyone on stage was visually captivating! *LOL* I swear, you will not be able to take your eyes off them. They look good, sing good, dance good. What more can a paying audience ask for? But I gush.

At Chicago's opening gala where Stan & I bumped into many friends from MediaCorp TV, radio & print also present there. Media out in full force!

Well, we finally got to chat with the cast of Chicago the Musical in TLR today, and it was one of the most rowdy, entertaining & engaging conversations we've had in a while. I guess partly because Craig McLachlan (Billy Flynn) was in the house. He's the heartthrob who played Kylie Minogue's brother in the hit series, Neighbours, on Australian TV.

This guy used to grace the covers of teen magazines every month, and our beloved colleague Melanie Oliveiro admits to collecting posters of him as a teenager herself! *LOL*

Craig is charming, cheeky, and brilliant at stoking up the playful humour in the conversation, like making Caroline Kaspar (Dance Captain / Miss "Not Guilty!") spew Hungarian 'live' on-air! *LOL* I think someone's been feeding Craig too much jelly beans!!! ;P

But one lady I really wanted to meet was Deone Zanotto. She plays Velma Kelly in this production of Chicago, and her character really stood out for me. In my opinion, she quite outshone Roxie Hart's character, even though the latter had a juicier role on stage.

[From top, clockwise]: Craig McLachlan (Billy Flynn), Deone Zanotto (Velma Kelly), Caroline Kaspar (Dance Captain/Hungarian girl), and Karen Mortimer (Resident Director).

Despite her explosive character on stage, with her flawless voice & dance moves, Deone is surprisingly calm, collected, and very down-to-earth in person.

What struck me most about what she shared (and what Craig interjected, of course!) was that backstage, she would be stretching... jogging on the spot... keeping her muscles warm for the next scene. Each scene just demands so much from her physically that she can't afford to let her muscles cool down! When you watch Chicago, you'll understand.

We also had Resident Director Karen Mortimer on our couch, telling us about her role as (in my words) "Prefect" or "Monitor" for the cast! *LOL* In fact, she, Caroline & the hot female conductor Vanessa have been entrusted with ensuring that the music, choreography and characters stay true to what was originally intended, which means keeping everyone in check while still allowing their personalities to shine. Tough!

But it pays off! This production is nothing short of excellent, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. Guess what? I'm going to catch it again this weekend ~ paying this time! *grin* The only other musical that has compelled me to do that was my all-time favourite, Les Miserables.

Do catch Chicago before it ends its run here on May 9 ~ strictly no extension!. All I can say is: You will NOT be disappointed! *wink*

Chicago the Musical
Till May 9
Esplanade Theatre
Tickets via SISTIC.

No comments: