Musicals have been tough for Beavercreek Community Theatre this season. “Evil Dead” and “The Big Picture” were forgettable missteps, and the current Edge of the Creek production of “Chicago” arises unevenly under Chris Harmon’s hit and miss direction.
John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s 1975 satire, a marvelous look at greed, murder and celebrity, is primarily fueled here by the terrific contributions of choreographer Annette Looper. Looper’s Fosse-inspired work is commendably performed by a fine ensemble that includes the ever-reliable Malcolm Walker, one of Dayton’s best Fosse interpreters. From the vengeful, “Cabaret”-esque allure of “Cell Block Tango” to the wonderfully circus-themed “Razzle Dazzle,” Looper’s routines, brimming with personality and enticement, are the main selling point of this production, which peculiarly uses pre-recorded music instead of a live orchestra/band.
By and large, the hilariously biting jailhouse rivalry between acerbic veteran killer Velma Kelly (Tina De Alderete) and dopey upstart Roxie Hart (Katie Kerry) is topsy-turvy. De Alderete possesses a striking physicality, but lacks passion and intensity, particularly at the outset while leading the most underwhelming version of “All That Jazz” I’ve heard. Conversely, the confident Kerry infectiously conveys Roxie’s sly innocence and deep desire for fame. Her songs are also executed with clear emotional intent. “Funny Honey” winningly transforms from adoration to rage, and “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby” are delightful. Kerry also creates a satisfying rapport with Dean Swann, effectively oily and conceited as hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn.
Enjoyable featured roles are provided by the endearing Michael Shannon as Roxie’s dim-witted husband Amos, strong vocalist Monique Hobbs as the Matron, handsome Jordan Duvall as Fred Casely, radiant Muse Machine alum Odette Gutierrez del Arroyo as June, and the excellent B. Mitchum whose humorous portrayal of Mary Sunshine is believably fixated on Billy.
Accented with attractive costumes by Linda Sellers and Kim Kroll and moody lighting by John Falkenbach, “Chicago” entertains but falls short.
“Chicago” continues through June 24 at the Lofino Center, 3868 Dayton-Xenia Rd., Beavercreek. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Act One: 70 minutes; Act Two: 55 minutes. Tickets are $11-$13. For tickets or more information, call (937) 429-4737 or visit www.bctheatre.org.