If there’s a bulletproof musical, “Chicago” is it. The John Kander-Fred Ebb-Bob Fosse masterpiece has been on Broadway and the road so long you don’t expect to encounter anything but that slinky version that’s been part of the entertainment landscape since the last century, but the Dupont Circle troupe Keegan Theatre has opened a production that’s surprisingly fun — particularly in Maria Rizzo’s Roxie Hart.
More than anyone else, Rizzo’s got the proper steamy dance style and Colt .45 attitude. Her gunshot laugh gives Roxie an unpredictable quality: Rizzo’s frightened, dangerous and freshly funny with lines you’ve heard a dozen times, and she’s easily the dancer to watch. She’s precise as the ventriloquist’s dummy with floppy arms for lawyer Billy Flynn in “We Both Reached for the Gun,” and the orbiting hips and arcing spine are on the money during “Hot Honey Rag.”
Rizzo is the shiniest object in the show, but directors Susan Marie Rhea and Mark A. Rhea get credit for creating a merry tone and for giving emerging talent a chance to stretch. Jessica Bennett’s asset as Velma is mainly vocal, though she athletically kicks and twirls her way through the absurdly demanding “I Can’t Do It Alone” and “When Velma Takes the Stand.”
The choreography is wholly in the Fosse vernacular, and Rachel Leigh Dolan guides the big numbers — “We Both Reached for the Gun” and “Razzle Dazzle,” especially — to satisfying crests. The performance zips from song to song and just basically works, not always with major moxie but occasionally glowing where you don’t expect it to.