By Rex Kendall
‘Chicago’ continues this Friday, July 31st on the Cutler stage and will mark the last big musical of the Cutler Bros. summer season.
If you’re not familiar with the story or the award winning movie that followed the award winning Broadway production, expect a rare, extravaganza that looks at the concepts of law and justice and is one of the few musicals that provide the audience with something to think about the next day.
Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb and John Kander’s musical premiered on Broadway in 1975, giving life to newspaper stories of political corruption, murder, greed, and treachery in Chicago circa 1920. The show won every conceivable award plays can win and has been called by many ‘the best musical ever made.’
In 2002, it was made into an Academy Award winning movie starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere.
Theatrical razzle-dazzle moves this coldly comic story of two murderesses who parlay the lurid press coverage of their crimes into a vaudeville career. In the Cutler Bros. production, the heroine, Roxie Hart is played by University of Montana theatre major Sarah Ottley.
Roxie never hesitates to do whatever she has to in order to win an acquittal in her murder trial. She’s married to a chump named Amos who is basically the only honest one in the lot. Amos, portrayed by Kelly Cutler, plays a fool at best, an insensitive clod at worst, and a wimp the rest of the time. It’s in their sneaky dealings with each other that these characters really shine. Roxie shoots her lover, Fred Casely, played by the redoubtable Marquis Archuleta, who made the fatal error of attempting to walk out on her.
Roxie tries to convince Amos to take the blame. When that doesn’t work out, she learns to play the corrupt judicial system with a virtuosity of a Horowitz. In prison, awaiting trial, she meets Velma Kelly, another murderess, who has learned to use the system to beat the system. They share a lawyer, Billy Flynn, who is as corrupt as they are. Together they shimmy and slime their way through the corrupt system.
Top dog inmate Velma is played by Cutler Brother’s veteran Mariann Woods (Cameron), most recently been seen on the stages at Port Polson. Matt Cutler slimes his way through the role of Billy Flynn.
Hart and Kelly develop a fierce rivalry under the watchful eyes of the prison Matron (Cutler veteran Muriah Buck of Deer Lodge). ‘Chicago” is the dancingest show the Cutler Brothers have produced in a long time, and while the choreographers, Carrisa Marie Lund, Heather Bach and Kelly Cutler remain true to Bob Fosse’s signature bump-and-grind routines, they have made their own creative contributions to the show.
We choreographed the show to the cast’s strengths while staying true to Fosse’s flair. The numbers have very distinct Fosse-esk moves along with more modern styles of dance. The cast was wonderful to work with as we pushed them to perform steps that they weren’t used to. I’d say this level of dance is new for the community, but everything certainly came together,” said Bach, “What we choreographed isn’t easy to learn, so the fact that we were able to accomplish this in the rehearsal time that we had is impressive. Our audiences will not be able to tell how much hard work went into these numbers, which really shows we have a marvelous cast.”
Director Cutler said he’s amazed with the talent of the cast.
“I can see why dance choreography took such a hard physical and emotional toll on Bob Fosse,” said Cutler, “I’ve choreographed a lot of routines over the years, but this is the pinnacle. Every move has to be blocked just right. The timing and the incredible score have to be totally symbiotic. The athletic and artistic demands on the actors huge; they really have become one big, writhing, singing, dancing animal. They blow me away.”
For the finale, Roxie and Velma team up to put on a stage show and receive the gratifying attention they both crave.
The “Chicago” cast boasts twenty plus actors and a full eight piece orchestra to boom out the dance numbers. Several song favorites from the movie are also in the stage version including “Give Them the Old Razzle Dazzle,” “All that Jazz,” “Mr. Cellophane,” and the notorious “Cell Block Tango.”
“The music alone is worth the trip to the theatre,” said Director Cutler.
“Chicago” will run on the Cutler Brother’s stage from July 24 to August 9. Performances are every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15 for general admission and reservations are highly recommended due to limited seating space. Call the Cutler Brother’s Box Office at (406) 846-4096 to reserve seats or if you have questions. For further information visit cutlerbros.com.