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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Black Lace, Bare Chests

Theater Review

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   Soulstice Theatre takes the gritty, sexy musical Chicago into a strange dimension of Victoria's Secret lingerie-lots of it.

  Ambitious director/choreographer Michael Endter floods the old school gymnasium with black lace, long legs, bare chests and plumped cleavages. He's done an amazing job keeping the action moving, drilling intricate Fosse-like moves into his cast of variably-skilled but uniformly game performers. Lighting designer David Carter has miraculously transformed the gym into a glitzy nightclub.

  OK, maybe not every note is pitch-perfect, and not every move is synchronized, but the ensemble attacks the show like a band of brave kittens ganging up on a particularly large pit bull, shaking it for everything they're worth.

  You have to wonder why such a nice bunch of people chose to tell such a dark tale, where men and women are bestial and vain, lawyers are self-serving, and the press is easily razzle-dazzled by simplistic, lurid fictions (it's like a neoconservative manifesto in musical comedy form). To wake us up? For fun? It's not clear.

  Should a tough show like Chicago be left to the professionals? Hell no; if you enjoy watching a roomful of worthy amateurs giving their all, this production is for you.

  Runs through Aug. 23.