Rickardo was going to leave her) and Velma Kelly

Rickardo Henry

DRA110-01

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12/7/2017

Chicago

Introduction

             I chose Chicago
because it is one of the older shows demonstrates how society has not
changed since the 1920s.  The basic plot
of this play is based on two characters: Roxie Hart (who murdered her boyfriend
the moment she discovered that he was going to leave her) and Velma Kelly (who
killed her husband and sister when she found them in bed together). The play
revolves around the perception of media, the judicial system, and fame. In
order to save herself from conviction, Roxie manipulates the media through lies
and claims that she is innocent.  She
achieves this by duping Velma, her rival cellmate, the media, and the public
and by hiring Billy Flynn, a criminal and corrupt lawyer. The lawyer transforms
Roxie’s malicious crime into sensational headlines in the media.

The show has various characters who play
various roles in the flow of the drama.
However, my favorite actors in this play are Roxie Hart and Billy Flynn (Charlotte
d’Amboise & Tom Hewitt) because, throughout
the play, they reflected their inner thoughts by their body and hand gestures
and their voices. Raymond Bokhour performing as Amos Heart is the ex-husband of
Roxie and becomes a victim of Roxie’s manipulation while she is in jail. Amos
Heart is naïve and produces the biggest
laugh and tears in a terrific rendition of the song “Mr. Cellophane” lamenting
his chronic invisibility.  Amos Heart
made one of the best humor of the night

Literary and
Dramatic Qualities of Plays and Live Performance

            The costumes and make-up designs of
the characters in this play form the most
important aspects. The costume designer achieved the objective of showing the
style and fashion of the early 20th century through the characters’
dressings.  In this period, women were dressed in short clothes that exposed most of
their body parts and skin. The lewd clothing made these women referred to as
flappers. In the introduction, Velma Kelly, a performer in a nightclub is introduced
dressed in a black and short dress. The
bold colors of her costumes match her
strong and flawless personality. Accordingly, Roxie Hart appears on the stage
in both dream world (dressed in more vibrant and stronger colors) and the real
world with costumes reflecting a neutral tone. Roxie appears to be more
confident and a star in her own dreamland. On the other hand, the female actors
and dancers wear short and black dresses, some with sleeves and others being
sleeveless. 

Other categories of females wear light,
tight, and transparent trousers showing their inner pants. The lawyer, Billy
Flynn, wears a black suit and white shirt to further indicate the time setting
of the play. Male dancers and actors wear tight black trousers and shirts which
are transparent, clearly depicting their body shapes and physique. This costume
depicts a drama composed of youthful teenagers. The simple black costumes used
in the play make the actors look sexy, gorgeous, and sassy. My first
attention on Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly is attracted by their silver shoes.
However, the scandalous clothes are worn
by girls and the pants, hats, and bow ties worn by the boys do not indicate the
1950s. On the other hand, I see this cast’s clothing as an indicator of
energetic, athletic, talented, and sexy performers.

Physical
Elements

Setting

            The set design of a live performance
is determined by a number of aspects like visual components, shifts in space
and time, lighting, costumes, and props. The visual element in Chicago entails a rectangular stage with
golden (brown) frames. Despite the stage being stripped bare, the show sweeps
the audience away by the sheer power created by the libretto and music.  The show starts with “Cell Block
Tango” and “All That Jazz, 2 show stoppers as the girls in prison
explain how they killed their loved ones “reasonably”. Velma Kelly takes the
first step in “All That Jazz”. Being a tall, voluptuous viper and
having been overthrown by her competitor in the jail, she never let it go. She
demonstrates great turns in “I Can’t-Do
It Alone” and “When Velma Takes Stand”. Through this, Velma
Kelly achieves dynamic presence on the stage which holds the entire theater
every moment she comes forward because of her amazing and charming moves.

            On the other hand, Roxie Hart
demonstrates her powerful, comedic, and touching personality. By killing the boyfriend
who dumped her, I see Roxie as a self-absorbed and spoiled character of an
oppressed individual trying to cope with certain aspects of life. Songs such as
“Roxy” and “Me and My Baby” in this play are funny, compelling, and outrageous
and indicate an extensive range of emotions. I view Billy Flynn, the
lawyer, as a cold-hearted character through the song “All I Care About”.
Through his soft singing, Billy finds his way towards the victory of his
clients. The “Razzle Dazzle” song with unusual duration manipulates
the press and gets immense rewards and unique applause.  In the song “When You’re Good to Mama”, Roz
Ryan, playing the part of Mama Morton, blows many kisses to the audience.

Musical Elements

            After attending the show, I agree with other
reviewers that Chicago indicates the
power of music and words which blazes out regardless of the absence of big
scenery and sets. The music used in this play extends and integrates the voice
of the actors and the underscore of instrumental music. The musical elements in
this play depict the type of popular entertainment played mainly in the US
during the 20th century. The entertainment depicts a mixture of
specialty performance such as dance, song, and burlesque comedy. This
introduction of musical elements establishes the tempo and creates the pattern
of the performance. The songs sung by actors such as Roxie, Mary, and Billy carry
the story of the play to higher intensity levels and also helps in
pushing the plot forward. The role and character of attorney Billy Flynn are
depicted from the exciting atmosphere characterized by humming musical sounds where
he declares that he does not care about his title but only love and money.

Bob Fosse, the original director-choreographer
transformed the way the audiences around the globe view stage dance and also dance
in the film industry in the late 20th century. Being visionary,
intense, and driven by unbelievable passion, Fosse depicts his own provocative
and entertaining personality. He employs sexual dance in this play which
physically demanded highly trained dancers with a combination of joyous humor
and bleak cynicism. 

Overall Performance

            The
performance of Chicago was well
organized. This began with an introduction which took almost six minutes displaying
singing and dancing of the characters on the stage. The Director, Walter Bobbie,
employed greater fun while minimizing stage techniques though keeping the moves
of the performers challenging and interesting. The performers are given the
freedom to climb up the side of the proscenium and exit through the orchestra’s
seating. Through this approach, they are able to interact with the conductor
during the show. The play adopted the modern
time’s stage or the picture frame stage which is well-illuminated during the
performance while the audience is left in darkness.  However, the black paintings make the greater
part of the performance appear to be darker than it is supposed to be. I,
therefore, consider Chicago as a powerful
and nostalgic show with minimized props and set but one which entails
significant swinging, teasing, confession, gullable deceit, and humor. The show
is very interesting with humor and jokes that made me never regret spending
almost two hours on the red chairs.

Band and
Orchestra

            The
orchestra is placed in a way that the audience can have a clear view of the
musical talent of the actors and have an immersive feeling of the performance.
We are able to see the performers utilize the space in an effective way while
interacting with the audience. In this way, the performers are reminding us
that this is a unique show, one of a kind. The performance, music, dance, and
interaction with actors and performers make me enjoy the play. The catchy and
exciting songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb takes me into the imaginary
world of indulgence and persuasion. I didn’t feel any hitch in the singing and
dancing making my mind and body glued to the stage in an imaginary way. The
placement of the band on the stage is fun in itself because it propels the flow
of events and envelops the audience. Besides, it minimized the set thus
enabling one to focus on the music of the orchestra and the movement of the
actors and performers. In fact, a number of shows I have seen do not place the
band in the vicinity of the audience. I am left singing the rhymes and gasping
at the vocals of Roxie and Billy.  I can
conclude that the music is infectious and makes Broadway be more than classic.
To me, Velma proves to be a professional dancer through her body moves and the swaying
of her hips which leaves the audience demanding more actions.          

The
Relationship between the Story and the Contemporary Society

            The
play Chicago revolves around six key
problems facing contemporary society. These include
murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, and adultery. The play is
based on the 20th-century
society where both the press and the criminal justice systems were rotten.
Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart are two celebrities who indulge greatly in liquor
and jazz. They both murder their lovers on different occasions under the
influence of jazz and gin. Roxie meets Velma in prison and they are both
defended by Billy Flynn, a corrupt attorney. The Cellblock shared by Roxie and
Velma is headed by Mama Morton, a corrupt matron who is seen helping Velma to
become the “top murderer of the week” in the media. The primary premise of this
mix of events indicates a world composed of a crooked and corrupt judicial
system and a public that craves violence. The show business music created by
the producer does not temper its cynicism. The more the audience enjoys the
show, the more they like the main characters Velma, Roxie and the other “Merry
Murderesses” in the Cook County Jail. The humor behind the play makes the
audience cheer, laugh, and ridicule many events and characters such as Amos,
who is morally upright. However, as the show ends, we realize that we were
cheering Murderers throughout the play. This is seen from the last words, which
reveal that we had been cheering murderers hiding behind the publicity of the
social media.

            I can relate this play to the
Watergate Scandal that is more relevant in the current environment. The entire
play can be compared to the justice system, the press, and the scary celebrity
life. The press focuses on making celebrities out of criminals (murderers)
while the public rebels against the efforts of legislating morality in society.
This play shows that alcohol and Jazz led to the immoralities of the 1920s.
However, in the current scenarios, immoralities result from sexuality,
drugs, marriage, and prayers in school. In the current
situation of the Watergate Scandal, the media has ridiculed the judicial system
through its spectacles and the Court cable TV network during the trial of the O.J
Simpson. Reflecting on the situation in the play and which demonstrates scandal
show that for a criminal to be acquitted, they need to have the right lawyer, a
lot of money, and a minimal acting ability. At the end of Chicago, Velma and Roxie (murderesses) offer thanks to the American citizens (the audience)
for believing in their innocence. It is well known that the two characters
killed their loved ones in different circumstances, but their performances make
the audience acquit them. This comparison shows that the morality of the early
20th century has not changed compared to the current society.

            During
the trial in the play, Billy’s power over the press is shown when he approaches
Roxie before the press meeting. At this time, Billy helps Roxie to
create a story to fake her innocence. This story is fed to the media indicating
how the criminal justice system and the media corrupt the public by creating
stories that will prevent further inquiries. Miss Sunshine and Billy being
corrupt, use their artistic skills to get public sympathy thus leading to belief
in the innocence of Roxie. In order to regain her fame, Roxie pretends to be pregnant. This reveals the challenge of
infidelity that is affecting the current society. After this announcement, Amos,
the ex-husband of Roxie claims paternity but he is not even noticed. After the
court hearing, the celebrity life of Roxie ends and she remains with no one but
Amos who is glad and proud of his wife. However, when she confesses to the
pregnancy lie, Amos leaves her. The song “Razzle Dazzle” sung by
Billy indicates that the entire drama is designed to attract and impress.

            Additionally, I view the treatment
of Roxie by the judicial systems as one based on ethnicity. Roxie is
sympathized by the media and the judicial system because she is a white woman
who is viewed as the sympathetic victim. The lawyer casts Roxie as a lonely
young girl filled with emptiness and yearning for love and the media buys into
this propaganda. If the case was to be applied to a girl from a black
background, then she would have been convicted by the judicial system. I am
sickened to see the current media and judicial system treating criminals or
murderers differently because of their gender and economic status.