Nashville Rep's CHICAGO a spirit-filled evening

In production through mid-April at the Nashville Rep, “Chicago” — the #1 longest–running American musical in Broadway history — is set in the late and roaring 1920’s and reveals the heartless story of how Chicago’s press became enthralled by the homicide-committing women of the time. Two sexy, charismatic, and very guilty ladies, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, put on quite the show for the public, all while trying to escape their fatal futures with the court.

Situated on-stage with accompanying orchestra, Music Director/Conductor Jason Tucker launches the show with a promise of tale about all things held near and dear to our very own hearts—“murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery.”  And this, despite the small number of wardrobe changes and limited stage space, the cast delivers. There’s no stale old razzle dazzle here! 

Opening with a thrilling musical favorite from the show, “All that Jazz,” the cast explodes out in their 1920’s high-waist slacks and suspenders, newsboy hats, low hip dresses, and fishnet stockings. The full ensemble sets the tone for the rest of the buoyant production as they parade around the smoky, sensual set with their jazz hands and large white feathery fans. Where else are you going to see middle-aged women doing full splits, belting out show tunes, all while being carried by men up center stage?? 

Once you move your mind past the fact that Renée Zellweger’s rail thin body isn’t actually the star and murdering dame Roxie Hart, Nashville’s very own Martha Wilkinson offers quite the stand out performance in the show.  In particular, Wilkinson has perfected Roxie’s flirty, pouty, and sassy demeanor, and she keeps the audience grinning and wanting more as she explains the complicated history with her unsuspecting and foolishly loving husband, Amos Hart (played by Shawn Knight). 

The show is packed full of all our favorite, catchy tunes that we remember humming along with from the 2002 Best Picture movie including a steamy, lingerie-clad jail scene with the murdering ladies in “Cell Block Tango.” Geoff Davin (playing the debonair, yet shady attorney, Billy Flynn) and Wilkinson deliver a particularly memorable scene as they play out puppet and puppeteer for the news media in “We Both Reached for the Gun.” And, of course, there’s plenty to admire with the “mistress of Murderer’s Row,” Matron Mama Morton, played by the vivaciously sexy and curvy Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva. 

So, throw on some 1920’s garb (we know all you hipsters already have some!), snag a couple of tickets for one of the cozy tables alongside the stage, and head over to the show for a spirit-filled evening that’s sure to leave you snapping your fingers, swaying your hips and . .  ALL. THAT. JAAA---AAZZZZZZ. That jazz!  


Directed by René D. Copeland, the Tony Award-winning “Chicago” is currently at the Nashville Repertory Theatre at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and has performances through Saturday, April 16, 2016.  Tickets start at $50 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office or online at 





Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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