A lot has been said and written about Chicago The Musical even before it opened its Manila run on Wednesday at The Theatre at Solaire in Pasay City.
The Manila Times ran the article “Manila, meet Roxie Hart” in September, and described the Broadway musical as a story that resonates most every culture that is prone to sensationalize crimes and turn their doers into celebrities.
Bianca Marroquin, who plays the lead role, had said, “In whatever country Chicago performs, everybody can relate to its story because it’s something that can happen in every culture. How people who commit crimes that are sensationalized by the media and then become celebrities. [And it’s] a criticism of the system as well.”
The social satire, presented on a minimalist stage, further promised to stay as close as possible to the vision of Bob Fosse, co-author, original director and choreographer of Chicago, together with John Kander for music and Fred Ebb who wrote the lyrics, when the production debuted on Broadway in 1975.
To hear or read about Chicago, however, is nothing compared to seeing it live on stage, with pulsating jazz music, beautiful bodies that move perfectly to every beat, and of course, the charisma of its actors led by Marroquin and Terra MacLeod, who plays Velma Kelly.
The Manila Times joined a press call on Thursday to witness two numbers from the highly anticipated performance, with an opening act that reveals the most-alluring vaudevillian of the 1920s, Velma. “All that Jazz” is truly a powerful performance.
The orchestra then went into “All I Care About (is Love)” with the character of cunning lawyer Billy Flynn (Jeff MacCarthy) whose looks, voice and swagger are straight out of a Hollywood classic.
Finally, Marroquin, a.k.a. protagonist Roxie, appeared on stage for a quick photo opportunity, and then musical director Robert Billig recognized the Filipino musicians who were tapped to be part of the orchestra.
He commended these gifted Filipinos he recalled were able to play the music within four hours of listening to the soundtrack. They merely had one dress rehearsal after that before the December 3 gala.
In all, the previews showed just how exciting Chicago can be, beyond words. No wonder it was acclaimed in November as the second longest-running musical next to Phantom of the Opera, and the longest-running musical in America since its New York production opened.
Asked what first-time audiences—even those who have not seen the Catherine Zeta Jones film version—can expect from the show, stage actress Roz Ryan, who portrays the role of Mama Morton, simply said, “It’s two hours of just non-stop entertainment. And all you have to do is just come and surrender to enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago cast also praised the new Theater at Solaire impressed by both its interiors and state-of-the-art stage.
Maroquinn expressed she felt special that Chicago is the first show to inaugurate the theater; while MacLeod said Filipinos should be proud to have a venue for the arts and culture of such high caliber.
Also present at the panel interviews were cast members Adam Pellegrini and Allison McDowell, as well as dance captain Colt Weiss.
Chicago is produced in Manila by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and Concertus Manila. Its current run The Theatre at Solaire will end on December 21.
For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph.