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Chicago 

Wednesday, Aug 20 2003
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The Broadway revival of Chicago had been in New York for six years when the movie won all those Oscars, and it's still there, with Melanie Griffith in the lead role. So the touring version at the Golden Gate Theatre can only seem a bit second-rate, even with cast members from New York. Former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson plays the shyster criminal lawyer Billy Flynn, toying with the New York press to keep his client Roxie Hart out of jail for shooting her husband. Richardson looks the part, in sharp-ironed pinstripes, but he lacks the sexual authority to deliver songs like "All I Care About" and (especially) "Razzle Dazzle." Brenda Braxton plays Velma Kelly, singing a polished but somehow flavorless "All That Jazz"; Marcia Lewis Bryan does a clever if muted "When You're Good to Mama" as Matron "Mama" Morton. The whole show feels muted, in fact. Its most powerful songs are the quietest, generally sung by the terrific Bianca Marroquin, as Roxie. "Tap Dance," "Roxie," and "Nowadays" (which starts off quietly) all have a potent, bluesy groove. Ray Bokhour's performance as Amos -- Roxie's neglected husband -- is also wonderful, especially in "Mr. Cellophane," his signature tune. A muted Chicago is better than a sloppy, road-weary one, of course; it's just that all this razzle-dazzle has been done already.

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