Mary Ann Lamb

Mary Ann Lamb

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Within the first five seconds of the musical number that opens the film adaptation of "Chicago," director Rob Marshall has established such a sublimely vivacious speakeasy atmosphere of hot jazz, cigarette smoke and showgirls that you'll feel as if you've been transported backstage at a posh 1920s cabaret.

The scene crackles with seductive energy as vaudeville siren Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) prowls across the footlights with a phalanx of sexy dancers, cooing "All That Jazz" in a voice that turns the men at the darkened tables around the stage into putty.

And just for a second, wannabe song-and-dance girl Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) imagines herself up there in Velma's place. As the beautiful flapper floozy stands in the shadows at the back of the theater, wide-eyed but reeking of wily ambition, Marshall (who directed the recent stage revival of "Cabaret") shows us a flash of Roxie's imagination in which she's the fabulous star of the fabulous show, wearing a fabulously silver sequined waterfall dress, strutting and singing to wild applause.

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