Chicago National Youth Theater

"The Hamilton Academy razzles and dazzles as they bring Chicago to Los Angeles with their steamy, energized production"


The Hamilton Academy razzles and dazzles as they bring Chicago to Los Angeles with their steamy, energized production of Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s hit musical. Striking visuals dominate Director Joe Joyce’s production. Mood-setting lighting effects (Rob Fritz) enhance Tommy G. Marquet’s sharp, sexy costumes. And enhancing those costumes is a dynamite dance ensemble. Creative choreographers Sandahl Bergman and Gerry McIntyre take the music and emotions to a higher level with their insightful and challenging routines, and they are working with a cast that has the talent to turn their vision into reality.

There’s a story in there amidst the razzle – a fairly entertaining tale of men-killing women who want to use their vengeful murders for fame and glory in vaudeville. And if in turn they can also avoid the hangman’s noose, so much the better.

Rainey Latislaw stars as Roxie Hart, the bored housewife who shoots her lover when he leaves her, and then hopes to parlay that into stardom. Rainey’s strongest aspect is her dancing and physical humor, especially as the puppet to All-He-Cares-About-Is-Love lawyer extraordinaire Billy Flynn (played by the smooth Cord Jackman).

Roxie joins a cell block full of jilted lovers, or in some cases women who were simply annoyed, who popped their significant others, leading to the hit Cell Block Tango number. But the big celebrity on the block is vaudeville star Velma Kelley who aims to use her murder of her adulterous hubby and sis as a launching pad for a national tour. And Chloe Tucker is the girl to do it – a triple threat with charisma, sensual charm, and All That Jazz.

Other highlights include Daniel Johnsen as Roxie’s gullible husband Amos, a.k.a. Mr. Cellophane, who wins the hearts of the audience with his sensitive, unassuming portrayal of the devoted husband. Charles Turner is a hoot as sugary crime reporter Mary Sunshine (sadly, his mike didn’t work during the first act on Thursday night). Above them all sits a crack band that propels the action below with their flawless performance led by Musical Conductor Jim Foschia.

Performed through May 20, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre