It’s been a sizzling summer and Maine State Music Theatre is keeping the heat coming with a sexy staging of “Chicago” that’s dark, dirty, sensationalist fun.

From the moment the scantily clad dancers sashay on stage to the wonderfully raunchy riffs of the interactive on-stage musicians, there can be little doubt that the theater isn’t shooting for a “PG” rating. Maine State aims to knock ’em dead with all that jazz and more.

Erin Maguire and Maine State Music Theatre newcomer Nikki Snelson star as the musical’s beguiling jailbirds, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly.

Maguire is a standout as the adulterous, scheming Roxie, delivering deep, sultry vocals and a sassy comic edge. She’s a marvel to watch in “We Both Reached for the Gun” as a rag doll-like ventriloquist dummy in the hands of Curt Dale Clark’s character, Billy Flynn.

Snelson comes to Maine State with an impressive Broadway resume that includes roles as the original Brooke Wyndham in “Legally Blonde” and Winnie Tate in “Annie Get Your Gun” with Bernadette Peters. She brings plenty of attitude to her role as Velma, delivering powerful vocals and a gutsy bravado that sends sparks flying as Roxie and Velma vie for notoriety.

Clark keeps the audience entertained as Roxie and Velma’s self-serving lawyer. He adds a touch of comic kitsch as Flynn, delivering a tongue-in-cheek performance that brings a smile and reminds the audience that the production is all in good fun.

Whether he’s strutting around the stage surrounded by showgirls, or stripping down to red-hot boxers, he’s a delight.

Adding to the fun is Charis Leos as “Mama” Morton, matron of the cellblock. Leos flaunts her stuff with a rich-voiced, bigger-than-life performance on “When You’re Good to Mamma” and keeps the laughter coming with wise-cracking antics.

Rounding out the primary cast is John-Charles Kelly as Roxie’s sweet, mild-mannered husband, Amos. His portrayal of Amos as a pathetic, easily manipulated schmuck is absolutely adorable and lends the perfect contrast to the personality of his character’s devious wife.

Kelly particularly shines on “Mister Cellophane,” delivering a sad-sack vaudevillian performance, dressed in an old-time, clown-like suit with a patched coat, tattered hat, striped ascot and white gloves.

Of course, the cast wouldn’t be complete without the talented, 15-member ensemble of statuesque singers and dancers. Much of the story is told through song and dance, requiring them to take on a variety of roles and execute an impressive display of 1920s dance styles.

Bree Branker (Liz), Chelsey Clark (Annie), Whitney Winfield (June), Lauralyn McClelland (Hunyak), Shari Katz (Mona) and Taylor Elizabeth Broadard (Veronica), particularly deserve mention for their hot rendition of “Cell Block Tango.”

“Chicago” gets the blood pumping with catchy songs and steamy dance numbers. It also tickles the funny bone.

This is escapist entertainment that will leave you singing, dancing and chuckling long after the curtain call.

April Boyle is a free-lance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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