You are about to see a show filled with “murder, greed, violence, exploitation, treachery… all the things we hold dear!” says a spotlighted …
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You are about to see a show filled with “murder, greed,
violence, exploitation, treachery… all the things we hold dear!”
says a spotlighted chorus member.
“Five, six, seven eight…” comes from the other side of the stage
as the band rolls into “All that Jazz,” with Velma Kelly front and
center, surrounded by a dancing chorus.
With a nine piece band, led by music director Michael Bowerman
and a cast of about 20, Performance Now Theatre Company opens
“Chicago” by Kander and Ebb on June 18 at Lakewood Cultural Center.
It’s directed by Gary Hathaway, a familiar name locally. Hathaway
and Meg Glatthar have co-choreographed this flashy musical, with a
nod to the distinctive style of the legendary Bob Fosse, who
choreographed the original Broadway production.
Song and dance numbers spring from the vaudeville shows popular
in the 1920s.
Vaudeville entertainer Velma Kelly (Tracy Warren), we soon
learn, is in prison for the murder of her husband and her sister —
she found them in bed together. Totally unrepentant, she’s
delighted at the newspaper publicity generated by her recently
hired attorney Billy Flynn (Travis Warren), a wonderful musical
theater character— the ultimate cynical razzle dazzle man. She
hopes it will enhance her entertainment career.
Even more recently consigned to the prison is singer Roxie Hart
(Kristin Hathaway), who shot her lover and night club customer,
Fred Casely, telling her not-so-bright husband Amos (Andy Sievers)
that it was a burglar. The publicity spotlight shifts to her, and
she picks right up on the opportunity.
The story is based on a play of the same name by a Chicago
Tribune reporter named Maurine Dallas Watkins, who covered the 1924
trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. It debuted
in June, 1975 at Broadway’s 46th Street Theatre in New York, a
major success and played in London’s West End the next year, was a
2002 film and has been continuously produced, a satirical
commentary on justice, media and society.
Reporter Mary Sunshine, played in drag, ties the news flashes
Key to the operations in the women’s prison is warden Mama
Morton (Celia Jones), who makes things happen for a price, such as
connections to ace lawyer Flynn. She belts out “When You’re Good to
Mama, Mama’s Good to You…”
The famous “Cell Block Tango” production number features her
array of murderous inmates. (“He Had It Coming!”)
On June 6, Hathaway worked “off-book” with his already
well-rehearsed cast, fine tuning here and there. “Shift into
serious performance mode. If you make mistakes, don’t show it… You
have to make a big leap today or you’ll get left behind… We’ll have
a band here next week,“ he said showing the cast a diagram of the
stage space at Lakewood Cultural Center, where they’ll perform, and
detailing space limitations. “You’ll have just 11 feet.” And, he
suggested that actors add a bit of silliness — “this is a
vaudeville comedy — be a little over the top!”
See the finished performance June 18 through July 11. Not really
appropriate for the short set, but teens should love the sassy
characters and pick up on the satire, as will the adults in the
If you go:
“Chicago” by Kander and Ebb will be presented by Performance Now
Theatre Company June 18 to July 11 at Lakewood Cultural Center, 470
S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood. Gary Hathaway directs. Razzle dazzle
and Bob Fosse-inspired choreography. Performances: 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $25, 303-987-7845
or online at www.performancenow.org.
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