I’m going to cheat for a second here.
I’ve already written about every show I have seen so far this summer, and since I work at a day camp and therefore am not exactly made of money, I have to dig deep into the past for this next blog. I figured it was only appropriate to write about Chicago since that is the musical being performed this summer at the Hollywood Bowl.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Hollywood Bowl performance, it’s only the coolest and most celebrity-packed musical theatre experience held every July at the Hollywood Bowl Arena in California. I would have sold my firstborn for a chance to have seen their performance of Rent in 2010.
Skylar Astin, Aaron Tveit, and Wayne Brady all in one show?! My head is exploding in the best way possible. Vanessa Hudgens can leave though. No one likes you.
Before I discuss the cast of the Hollywood Bowl’s Chicago, I’d like to pause briefly to talk about the show itself. Chicago is one of my favorite movie-musical adaptations of all time. It’s the story of a young vaudeville hopeful named Roxie Hart who murders the man she is having an affair with. She winds up in a jail run by a Matron who conducts a system of mutual aid in which a favor is done for her, and in return she makes sure the ladies in her prison become murderous, newsworthy celebrities, which soon becomes so important to Roxie that it utterly consumes her.
I think the film version is utterly fantastic. Richard Gere is a devilishly handsome Billy Flynn, Renée Zellweger IS Roxie Hart, and Queen Latifah is sassier than you could even imagine as Matron Mama Morton.
And don’t even get me started on Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly. She was pregnant during this movie. Remember the last thing you said you couldn’t do because it was “too hard?” Well try dancing on top of a table and belting your heart out all while having a baby inside of you and then reevaluate that statement.
With all that said, this show sucks.
Alright, that might sound a little harsh. But for someone who practically worships this movie, the stage version fell so far flat it was practically through the floor. The stage was extremely minimalistic and had barely any set to work with. The orchestra was also smack dab in the middle of the stage, which I found distracting and a bit cheesy.
None of the actors were particularly bad, but their talent just wasn’t enough to save the mediocrity of the show itself. I find this extremely unfortunate because the music and story are absolutely wonderful, but the staging is so terrible that if you have already seen the movie, you can’t possibly fathom what went wrong in the Broadway version.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about the upcoming Hollywood Bowl performance. Chicago will run at the Hollywood Bowl from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28. Brooke Shields is directing, which I actually think is a decent choice considering she has already starred on Broadway and has definitely proved her singing and – more importantly for this show – dancing chops.
Problem #1 with casting: Ashlee Simpson as Roxie Hart.
For real?! Ashlee Simpson? How many rocks did they have to turn over before they found her? She’s been so far out of the public spotlight ever since she did a jig on SNL after a botched lip-syncing job. That’s right Ashlee, we didn’t forget. We’ll never forget.
She may be able to hold a tune (whether or not she can do it live is still in question), but she sure as hell can’t carry an entire show as the star. I hate making assumptions but I just can’t see any way that she can be good enough to pull off such an iconic role.
Problem #2 with casting: Drew Carey as Amos
HAHA, WHAT? This is a joke, right? You don’t think Drew Carey can sing, do you? Of course he can’t! Just hearing him speak should be enough to tell you that he’s most certainly not the Broadway type. This man does not belong on a stage. He belongs behind a desk, pressing a buzzer and giving out points that don’t matter. (Disclaimer: Whose Line is it Anyway? is one of my favorite shows ever. This is my favorite moment ever. You’re welcome).
REDEMPTION: SAMANTHA BARKS AS VELMA KELLY!!!!!!!
Were those enough exclamation points to accurately convey my happiness? Just in case you decided to be a hermit this past winter and didn’t make it out to see the Les Miserables movie, Samantha Barks is the musical angel sent down from talent heaven who so beautifully played the role of Eponine.
This woman has the most magnificent voice I have ever heard and she’s only 22 years old. She’s also stunningly gorgeous and an incredible actress. If anyone can save this seemingly doomed production, it’s Samantha Barks.
Hopefully the Hollywood Bowl will prove me wrong and put on a fantastic show, but until the bootleg YouTube clips come out I’ll have to settle for my trusted and cherished DVD of Chicago that will never let me down.
Chicago is currently playing on Broadway at the Ambassador Theater, and will be playing at the Hollywood Bowl July 26-28.
Only child who regards all her friends as siblings - whether they like it or not. Obsession with all things pop culture, television, and theatre (verging on slightly unhealthy). Cant' remember the last time she went to sleep before 2am. Gets into heated arguments with anyone who thinks New York pizza is not the best food on earth.