A vampy wonderland

By By Lisa Anderson and By Lisa Anderson

By Lisa Anderson

Pioneer Theatre Company starts the season with a bang-several, actually-as Charles Morey, the company’s artistic director for the past 22 years, brings us Chicago and its murderous mademoiselles.

The show opens with the gorgeous vaudeville-wannabe Roxie Hart shooting her lover when he threatens to leave her. Kelly Sullivan makes an intoxicating, somehow endearing Roxie and is complemented by the dark-haired, devilish diva Erin Crouch as Velma Kelly. Both Velma and Roxie have been dubiously blessed with unrelenting determination and unremitting egos-they are cold and calculating as they heat up the stage with their sultry voices and dance moves.

The set sparkles and glitters while the orchestra soothes and grooves with jazz. This show delivers on the promise of great theater synonymous with Pioneer Theatre Company’s performances. The performance splashes the stage with garters and fishnets, legs kicking high and morals dragging low.

Chicago professes to be about “murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery,” so I was surprised when a small group of BYU students left before intermission. They cited bad language as their reason-so if your sensibilities are similarly delicate, you may want to avoid this one.

Terrence Goodman nailed his role as the sleazeball lawyer, Billy Flynn-who will guarantee any woman an acquittal for a hefty fee. One of the play’s most captivating scenes is when he takes over Roxie’s press conference by holding her on his lap like a ventriloquist. He answers all the questions in a high-pitched version of his (very masculine) voice while Sullivan flops and jaws in a marvelously dummy-like manner.

This show offers an unapologetic look at the way we glamorize the sins of celebrities and reminds us of how the media turns sensational criminals into celebrities. Without feeling like social commentary, this is a timely message for a gossip-hungry public.

Many of us are only familiar with this show from the 2002 Hollywood film version, but nothing compares to the experience of live theater.

Erin Crouch and Kelly Sullivan tear up the ol’ stage and proudly display their hosiery in Pioneer Memorial Theatre’s distinguished production of “Chicago.”