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What's New on the Rialto kinda Las Vegas Musical!

Chicago opened in previews last night at the new Mandalay Bay Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas to cheers at the curtain call from the local audience...and a standing crowd at that!

Headlining the cast are Chita Rivera, Ute Lemper, Marcia Lewis, Ben Vereen, and Ernie Sabella. The production is being staged identically to the Broadway version, meaning that for the first time, Las Vegans and tourists will not see a tab version but a full scale Broadway musical with an unheard of intermission.

Local wags are questioning whether this type of entertainment will work in this town in which tourists get antsy after 90 minutes and want to get back to the gaming tables. Well, after what I witnessed last night, a new dawn will shortly explode on the Las Vegas strip.

I sat next to an elderly couple who I thought were tourists. I asked them if they had ever seen Chicago and they said 'no' and clearly did not know what to expect. They were both tapping their toes during "All That Jazz."

So, you want to know about the show? Well, we can't review a show in previews but we'll point out some of the highlights. Yes, the audience broke out into cheers when Chita made her entrance. How did she look? Fabulous, that's all. One theater goer at intermission asked another "How old is she?" I chimed in "66" when they were both wrong and got a response of "Get outta town! No way."

Ute Lemper proved to be an equal match for Chita, thereby keeping the balance of the show in its proper context. Chita does have that star quality but Ute's got those legs! And Chita's got some good lookin' gams as well. So even though there is an age gap here between the two murderesses, it just proves that both roles are ageless.

Marcia Lewis reprises her deliciously nasty Mama Morton direct from Broadway and Ernie Sabella is playing a real crowd pleasing Amos. His "Mr. Cellophane" went over so well that he got a scene call in the middle of it. Marcia and Ute's duet "Class" had the house screaming with laughter. Ben Vereen is a very sly Billy Flynn and boy does he know how to work an audience.

One of the best things about seeing a new production is that the cast is so tight and crisp. The ensemble of dancers were simply great....oops...forgot, no review here.

At intermission I asked the couple next to me how they enjoyed the show so far. "Great." I headed up to the lobby to catch the buzz. I knew going back in that it would tell the real story, and the story is that no one left to get back to the tables.

After the show I contacted that couple again...they loved it and will recommend it to their neighbors. Turns out they are locals and came because of the television advertisements. They also were on their feet during the wild standing ovation.

There was one strange thing about this production that puzzled me. There was no exit know, when the audience is leaving the theatre and the orchestra goes into "All That Jazz" and other numbers. So there was silence as we marched out, but I've always preferred to be humming my way to the exit. I hope they put it in. Might even sell a few more CD's in the lobby.

Chicago opens on Thursday, March 11th. Will it be a hit? Is Las Vegas ready for a full scale Broadway musical? You bet your ass...and all that jazz!

See you Sunday!

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