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If, on the strength of having liked the Oscar-winning movie, you’re thinking about catching the terrific stage version of Chicago at the National Theater—and if you aren’t thinking about it, by all means start—there are a couple of things you should know. First and foremost, Bob Fosse created the original Chicago back in 1975 not merely out of bowler-hatted, elbows-akimbo razzle-dazzle, but also out of star power. As Roxie and Velma, he had Gwen (Damn Yankees) Verdon and Chita (Bye, Bye, Birdie) Rivera, who were, respectively, the most sizzling Broadway dancers of the two previous decades. The audience expected them to set the stage on fire in their own highly idiosyncratic ways, and Fosse wasn’t about to disappoint. He created Roxie’s dances as a showcase for Verdon’s sly, ankle-crossing winsomeness and gave Velma the sass and chair-straddling high kicks for which Rivera was famous. And knowing that there’d be pandemonium the moment the stars danced together, he elected to make the crowd wait. Velma had her show-stopping numbers, Roxie hers, but never together except in book scenes and in one stand-and-belt duet. By the middle of the second act, the tension this delay had created was palpable, and then, just before the final curtain, in a number called the “Hot Honey Rag,” he released it, setting the stars down in front of a glittering curtain and letting them skitter through a relaxed, effortless soft-shoe as if to say, “We’ve already given you more than you dreamed. Now here’s what you came for.” That number is the only one for which the choreography is credited to Fosse in the revival that opened on Broadway in 1996. The rest were choreographed “in the style of” Fosse by Ann Reinking, who’s been faithful enough to the original intent that you can see precisely how the show worked. That’s especially true in the flashy new touring version that’s kicking up heels and twisting wrists at the National Theatre. Bianca Marroquin’s Roxie is a sexy blend of Verdon and Shirley MacLaine, with a honeyed voice and a deft, come-hither way with a wriggle. Brenda Braxton’s Velma is brash and brassy, and a sensational dancer, very much in the Rivera mode. And they’re backed by a knockout ensemble: Gregory Harrison relaxed and in good voice as lawyer Billy Flynn; Ray Bokhour a nebbish with the soul of a Borscht Belt comic as Roxie’s hubby, Amos; Roz Ryan as a prison matron who makes the audience come to her when she could clearly shout the house down; R. Bean the funniest, most persuasive Mary Sunshine I’ve seen in eight productions of the show; and a dancing chorus that’s every bit as buff as it is well-drilled. The specific star power of Verdon and Rivera may no longer power Chicago, but these folks give it all the glitz anyone could wish.—Bob Mondello