Evolve Theatrics’ ‘Chicago’ shines above its intimate setting


“Chicago” is a Jazz Age-inspired musical that has won six Tony Awards and a Grammy and features sizzling dancing, witty repartee and beloved songs like “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle.” This racy and cynical tale of murder, greed, fame and the manipulation of the American justice system is widely beloved and has been performed by many legends of American musical theater. It has run on Broadway continuously since 1996, and it has been a familiar favorite of many theater companies over the years. So, why go see it again — and in a smallish Lansing church to boot?

See Evolve Theatrics’ production this weekend to witness two of the best musical performers in the Lansing area while we’re lucky enough to have them around.

Meghan Malusek has had a great showing so far this season, offering a typically outstanding performance as Magenta in Riverwalk Theatre’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show” in October. Here, they have created a slinky yet wary Velma Kelly, moving with predatory grace and desperate purpose and making full use of their confident and accurate singing voice. The former Grand Ledge High School Comet is a true triple threat, a performer in total command of their instrument.

Ember Stokes, who plays competing vaudevillian Roxie Hart, went to Grand Ledge rival Waverly High School, and it’s a treat watching these opponents spar on stage and battle for the best legal representation possible. Stokes does a great job with the arc of her character, starting as a gritty down-and-outer, then delivering the “little girl lost” routine and finishing up as a glitzy show-biz kid. Her voice is strong and emotional, her acting chops are polished, and her comic timing is excellent. But even better, her dancing is sharp, crisp and sudden, with full respect paid to the demands required in performing in the choreographic style of Bob Fosse.

Ian Whipp is brash and assured as lawyer Billy Flynn, and Marty Snitgen evokes pity and laughs with his characterization of “Mr. Cellophane” Amos Hart. Joyce Kramer-Cox is threatening and funny as Matron “Mama” Morton, Scot Muncaster delivers the laughs and falsetto required of Mary Sunshine, and Makayla Marrison looks like an up-and-comer in the chorus.  Last-minute recasting due to illness makes me reluctant to identify individual chorus performers for fear of misidentifying someone, but suffice to say that all are effective and a treat to watch, dancing and singing well and offering some of the best Hungarian cursing I’ve heard in some time.

This production of “Chicago” is very strong, with a well-picked cast and an intimate performance space that allows you to get up close to the action, especially with effective incorporation of the vomitoriums as playing spaces. The lighting is sparse but efficient, the vocals are clear, the costumes are glitzy yet tasteful, and boy, is the jazz hot, baby!



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us