Chicago opened in Los Angeles last night. And as an editor at L.A. Parent, I found myself seated fourth-row mezzanine with my daughter – who is 18, and thus old enough to appreciate the subtle but decidedly burlesque humor, which would be lost on anyone younger than (depending on their upbringing) 14 or so. I will now review the performance for you, and turn it into a health topic. How?
Ladies and gentlemen, a tap dance!
First, here is my history as a musical theater audience member:
- Phantom of the Opera: Post-Michael Crawford, but still charming.
- Miss Saigon: Snore!
- The Lion King: First L.A. run. Delightful.
- Cabaret: NYC production with Natasha Richardson. WOW!
- Dirty Dancing: In London. Someone should have put Baby in the corner.
Now you know who you’re dealing with. So now I’ll talk about the show.
Opening nights here in L.A. are always fun. There was a red carpet and some paparazzi. A colleague found herself texting alongside Arsenio Hall, and Corey Feldman accidentally elbowed my daughter in the VIP will call line. (He said “sorry.”)
This production’s sets were minimal, with the band on a framed platform center-stage and the action taking place in front, around the sides, and sometimes up near the conductor’s podium. This evoked the feeling that you were watching a burlesque show on an intimate (no pun intended) scale, and it made the most of the superb group of musicians assembled for the performance.
The acting, singing and dancing were also excellent and the minimal costuming – everything cut up to here and down to there, with lots of mesh, fishnet, and just plain skin – set the cast’s acrobatics off in fine style.
And here, at last, is the health tie-in. These jazz dancers are true athletes with strong, fit bodies at the top of their game. (Ballerinas are also athletes, but their penchant toward frightening thinness means they often seem anything but healthy.) And in those costumes you could see every muscle (We were all watching their muscles, right?) do its work. It’s the kind of thing that can make you appreciate what the human body can do, and remind you that you should give yours a bit more attention.
Thus, though I was up past midnight last night, and though I am a sleep evangelist preaching the benefits of a nightly eight hours, I found myself up early and on the hiking trail, imagining the impact of every uphill trudge on my “gams.” And, though I’m going to skip my yoga class tonight (because I really do need some sleep) I’ve found a make-up class I can fit in tomorrow. I can’t dance (don’t ask me), but many of the moves in the show reminded me of yoga poses, and inspired me to continue my quest to bend like that.
So there you have it. Though the gin was cold and the piano hot, though there was murder and mayhem and cross-dressing, the whole thing came to a happy, healthy ending – for me at least.
The show runs through May 9 if you’d like to get inspired. For more info, click here …