The orchestra was perched on a rooftop in a brilliant set design by Kurt Kohl which let the audience see them and made them part of the show. As soon as we were seated, Chris Tolomeo and his jazz orchestra started some warm-up numbers from his CD to set the feeling of 1920s speak-easy. Then Kitty (Leeia C. Ferguson) came out in a gangster’s raincoat to do the house announcements in a well-written 1920's patois – letting those dancer legs peak out through the thigh-high slits.
Lights down, then up again showing back of a dancer who starts 'All that jazz' using the brilliant choreography created by Jody Anderson - whose 2007 Candlelight Theatre production of Chicago won the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance Barrymore Award. Not only were all the dancers top quality, but the production on opening night was as tight as anything I have seen in Delaware. Yet it was Barbara Wright's perfect cold stare/warm smile combination as Velda Kelly that made the show for me. I had seen Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film but I was even more captivated by Ms. Wright's dancing and her ability to give that "I'll-smile-when-I-murder-you" look throughout the show.
Watching a few clips of the movie showed me that although the fade-ins and technical gloss give it polish, there is a dimension missing on film that you get with live theatre that I could hardly describe. When Billy Flynn, the shyster lawyer (Jeffrey Santoro) does his shtick with the dancing girls and feathers - your mouth is still hanging open and asking: can this be Delaware? The well-seasoned musical backbone of the Tolomeo orchestra gave a tremendous boost to the smoothness of entrances and dancing.
Music Director Steve Weatherman and Choreographer Jody Anderson deserve much praise for this well-rehearsed show, but credit for coordinating the entire production goes to Director Matt Casarino who said he had never had a show so ready on opening night. The casting, the music and the dancing are so good that I highly recommend you catch a show during the run concluding November 13.