Category: Kander and Ebb

Review: Chicago the Musical (Drury Lane Theatre)

E. Faye Butler stars as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago, Drury Lane Theatre           

John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics, book)
   and Bob Fosse (book)
Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace (map)
thru June 18  |  tix: $40-$60  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Scottsboro Boys (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Mark J.P. Hood stars as Mr Tambo in The Scottsboro Boys, Porchlight Music Theatre           

The Scottsboro Boys

John Kander & Fred Ebb (music, lyrics),
   David Thompson (book)
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 12  |  tix: $38-$51  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

March 1, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Cabaret (Broadway in Chicago)

Andrea Goss as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Broadway Chicago          


By John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics)
    and Joe Masteroff (book)
PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe (map)
thru Feb 21  |  tix: $25-$108  | more info
Check for half-price tickets   

February 15, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Cabaret (Marriott Theatre)

Stephen Schellhardt, Chadae Nichol and Alexandra Palkovic perform "Two Ladies" from Marriott Theatre's "Cabaret" by Kander and Ebb, directed by David H. Bell. (photo credit: Peter Coombs)        

Written by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Book by Joe Masteroff  
Directed by David H. Bell
at Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire (map)
thru March 16  |  tickets: $40-$48   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

February 16, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Review: Cabaret (Light Opera Works)

Jenny Lamb stars as Sally Bowles in Light Opera Works' "Cabaret" by Kander and Ebb, directed by Stacey Flaster. (photo credit: Jasmin Shah)        

By John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) 
        and Joe Masteroff (book)
Directed and Choreographed by Stacey Flaster
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston (map)
thru Aug 18  |  tickets: $32-$77   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

August 13, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Kiss of the Spider Woman (Boho Theatre Company)

Jennifer T. Grubb, Nathan Carroll and Evan Tyrone Martin star in Boho Theatre's "Kiss of the Spider Woman" by Kander and Ebb, directed by Peter Marston Sullivan. (photo credit: Peter Coombs)        
Kiss of the Spider Woman 

By John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) 
    and Terrence McNally (book)
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru June 30  |  tickets: $25-$27   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

June 4, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chicago the Musical (Broadway in Chicago)


The new razzle dazzle as pertinent as ever


Chicago Tour
Credit Photo: ©Paul Kolnik

Broadway in Chicago presents
Written by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and John Kander
Directed by Walter Bobbie
at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map)
through June 12  |  tickets: $30-$95  |  more info

Reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Now in its fifteenth year, this slimmed-down, near-concert version of Kander and Ebb’s cynical and enthralling musical features, as the smoothly lying lawyer Billy Flynn, John O’Hurley (J. Peterman in “Seinfeld” and a fixture on “Dancing with the Stars.” It’s a sardonic case of art-mutilates-life: As the press-wheedling lawyer in this sexy-strutting, Tony-winning revival of Chicago, O’Hurley exactly recalls Johnnie Cochran at his ingratiating worst. His deadpan asides and silky put-downs are passive aggression at its most insidious.

Chicago the Musical - Broadway TourChicago proves again how everything old is new again. For Maurine Watkins‘ crime-based comedy (an amoral companion to “The Front Page”, its equally cynical contemporary), the time is 1926, when a shyster flim-flams a credulous jury with "razzle dazzle." Following acquittal, Chicago murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly–former rivals turned reluctant partners–enjoy brief vaudeville glory at, among many venues, our old McVickers Theatre. Then "Chicago’s killer-dillers" sink into the obscurity that was interrupted by two unpunished slayings.

Forget the Jazz Age backdrop: this "drop dead" musical is as cunningly current as the Casey Anthony trial. The target for Kander and Ebb’s wicked 1975 musical, vibrantly restored in Walter Bobbie’s stream-lined staging, is phony celebrities, a prurient press that wallows in the vices it pretends to scorn, a bottom-feeding public who prefer killers to victims, and the cynical credo that showbiz sucks on somebody else’s sorrow.

Add to this deja vu our tabloid/talk-show penchant for forgiving confessional criminals who plead for pity over punishment–and Chicago seems as contemptuous as a former IMF honcho under condo arrest.

Told as vaudeville (with the 20 songs depicting "acts of desperation"), Chicago moves a lot faster than justice. Set inside gold frames (the inner one enclosing the first-rate band, the outer the in-your-face stage action), the hit-and-run scenes shake and shimmy. Stripped of sets (who needs a chandelier or helicopter with songs like these?), director Walter Bobbie focuses on the song-and-dance glories that Bob Fosse bequeathed to Ebb’s infectious score and that Anne Reinking lovingly reconstructs.

Cast of "Chicago the Musical" John O'Hurley as Billy Flynn in the Broadway tour of "Chicago the Musical"
Roz Ryan, T.W. Smith - Chicago the Musical Chicago the Musical - national Broadway tour

I treasure the memory of seeing Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera on March 1, 1978, in a touring production at the old Blackstone Theatre, as well as the late Michael Barto‘s 1994 Prologue Theatre revival. But this fiercely concentrated second-coming invents its own showbiz heaven. Supple as panthers, the silky-smooth, superbly-conditioned cast slink through "All That Jazz" till the theater risks meltdown. "Razzle Dazzle," spiced with a shower of silver sequins, a mirror globe and a descending bank of backlights, amounts to a Broadway orgasm.

At the vortex of Reinking’s carnivorous, bump-and-grind choreography is four-star bravura work. Terra C. MacLeod’s Velma is hilarious as half a dance team in her frenzied "I Can’t Do It Alone." Tracy Shayne remorselessly turns Roxie Hart into a lethal mix of Jean Harlow and Leona Helmsley. O’Hurley has contagious fun swaggering among simpering, feather-fanning chorines in "All I Care About," and big-bosomed Roz Ryan, as a Cook County dominatrix-matron, tears the soul from her ragtime anthem "When You’re Good To Mama." Ron Orbach, repeating the part that fits him like his ugly costumes, is suitably self-effacing as Roxie’s nebbish husband Amos and, memorably, T.W. Smith‘s toxic depiction of a sob-sister reporter is as deceptive as her crime stories.

Thanks to this sizzling production, Chicago’s summer just got a lot hotter.

Rating: ★★★★

The cast of "Chicago the Musical"

All photos by Paul Kolnik


1997 Tony Awards

June 9, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Cabaret (The Hypocrites’)

Willkommen to a darker, sexier ‘Cabaret’



The Hypocrites Theatre presents

Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Music by John Kander
Directed by Matt Hawkins
DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)

through May 23rd | tickets: $15-$25  |  more info

reviewed by Keith Ecker 

The first thing you will notice about The Hypocrites’s production of Cabaret is the genderbending. The scene-stealing role of the emcee, who has been played by everyone from Joel Gray to Alan Cumming to Neil Patrick Harris, is now played by a woman (Jessie Fisher). And whereas the men always brought a certain effeminacy to the role, Fisher brings a cocky butchness without sacrificing her sensuality.

TheHypocrites_Cabaret_03 You could view this casting call as a way to pander to a more general audience, eliminating the homosexual overtones of the show’s ringmaster. But The Hypocrites’ version of the piece is still rife with in-your-face graphic gay sexuality, from the lingering kiss between the American Cliff (Michael Peters) and one of the cabaret boys to the completely unsubtle choreography, which includes a lot of mock copulation.

In fact, if anything, the choice to womanize the emcee adds an additional thematic element to the play, one that promotes the strength and courage of women and the misogyny of the Nazi state. This is most effective during the song “I Don’t Care Much.” Director Matt Hawkins places four masked Nazi soldiers around the emcee who watch her with cold, dead eyes. The emcee staggers around the stage, spitting at the men as she taunts them with the lyrics of the song, knowing full well that she is writing her own death sentence.

Fisher exudes confidence as the nightclub’s central figure She also has a clever wit, ad-libbing occasionally during some of the more light-hearted numbers such as “Willkommen.” Like her carriage on stage, her voice is vigorously energetic, proving to be one of the strongest in the cast.

Lindsay Leopold plays the manic Sally Bowles with feral-like fierceness. The character of Sally spans a spectrum of emotion, oftentimes displaying two distinct feelings at once: her external exuberance and her inner depression. Leopold straddles this spectrum well. For example, her rendition of “Cabaret” is not the joyful melody you may recall from the movie. Rather, it’s a melancholy rendition made all the more poignant when contrasted with the upbeat lyrics.

The costumes in the musical are basically a character unto themselves. Costume designer Alison Siple creates a cohesive aesthetic that combines ruffles and rags with garters and lace. The women look simply fantastic. However, the men did not get the same treatment. Whereas the women’s flamboyant costumes genuinely reflect the sexy cabaret atmosphere, the men’s costumes seem more like cartoonish afterthoughts.

TheHypocrites_Cabaret_05 TheHypocrites_Cabaret_06

Hawkins direction is superb. The play moves along quickly, juggling various plotlines from the rise of the Nazi regime to Sally’s love affair with Cliff to the engagement of the landlady Frau Schneider. But it never feels hurried. The staging is also impressive. At the beginning of the play, the cabaret girls make grand entrances by sliding down poles, while near the end, the faceless Nazi guards stand menacingly along the catwalk above the stage.

The play is also done in a cabaret setting, providing ample intimacy for the audience and performers. Although most of the audience is relegated to risers, a few lucky patrons are able to sit at tables along the stage.

The Hypocrites Theatre’s production of Cabaret is dark, sexy and fabulous. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see the play in an intimate, cabaret-like setting, this is your chance. With great direction, singing and revealing costumes, the show will titillate and entertain before crash-landing into its inevitable, disturbing conclusion.

Rating: ★★★½

Extra Credit:


April 20, 2010 | 3 Comments More