We have seen gay heaven — or, at least, the older gentleman sitting in front of us at the Ambassador Theater, prone to wild clapping, spontaneous standing ovations, and a few outbursts of “Oh, my God! It’s Chita Rivera! It’s Chita Rivera!” has — and it looks like last night’s tenth-anniversary performance of Chicago, a benefit for Safe Horizons, in which every person who’s been in the revival’s cast either made a cameo appearance or performed an entire number. Who was there?
A leotard-clad Rivera was one of many Velmas, black feather standing high on her head and purring “All That Jazz” like it was the world’s greatest come-on. She’s a little more fragile these days than she once was, but she’s still limber enough to do the splits while being held aloft by three guys. Melanie Griffith was mesmerizingly charming as Roxie, even when they had to stop the show because a loud whirring noise (a busted light? a fan? We couldn’t tell) drowned out all her lines. “I guess it’s ‘Roxie,’ take two,” she giggled, breathlessly, still in character, moving her shoulders in time. (Although we suspect in the real gay heaven she’ll be able to hit at least some of her notes.)
Bebe Neuwirth, still as spry as ever in “Hot Honey Rag,” will easily be granted admission, as will John O’Hurley as Billy Flynn, the three men singing gorgeous falsetto as Mary Sunshine, and numerous other Broadway stars whom we didn’t recognize but the audience certainly did. Brooke Shields was fine but undistinguished as Flynn’s marionette in “We Both Reached for the Gun”; Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys proved he needs to be banned from the stage; and Ashlee Simpson showed that, yes, she can sing but that in the Simpson household, “isn’t” is apparently pronounced with a long “o” in the middle. (“Isooon’t it great? Isooon’t it grand?”) We ran into Tovah Feldshuh later that night, and she said she’d come to see history. She had a point.
— Jada Yuan