Tickets for the Rend Lake College Theatre’s production of the Bob Fosse classic Chicago will be available Monday, Jan. 24.
Set in the burgeoning jazz age and the height of vaudeville in the 1920s, Chicago is the kiss-and-tell tale of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who kills her lover as a career move; Billy Flynn, a sharp lawyer who turns Roxie into a celebrity; and Velma Kelly, a dancing jailbird with an ear for headlines and an eye for talent.
“I am very excited about doing this ‘flapper-era’ musical. Bob Fosse was one of the all-time great choreographers and this show really showcased his genius,” Theatre Instructor Tracey Webb said. RLC’s production of Chicago runs Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6 at the Rend Lake College Theatre. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7 p.m. and the Sunday presentation will be a 2 p.m. matinee.
Webb said she also is thrilled to be working with a newcomer, Musical Director Allyson Heitmeyer, who was hired in July as RLC’s Music Program Coordinator. One might say Webb’s theatrical performances have come full circle, as Heitmeyer was the first leading lady in the first musical Webb directed for RLC, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in 1998.
Associate Art Professor Therese Melena designed the stage set for Chicago, including a two-story cell block, with construction help from the RLC maintenance staff.
Velma – a vaudevillian who shot the other half of her sister act when she caught her husband with her sister – shows the audience the story of chorus girl Roxie’s cold-blooded murder of nightclub regular Fred Casely. Roxie convinces her husband Amos that the victim was a burglar, and he cheerfully takes the rap until the police reveal to Amos that Roxie knew the burglar – shall we say, intimately – and Amos decides to let her swing for herself.
Roxie’s first taste of the criminal justice system is the women’s block in Cook County Jail, inhabited by Velma and other merry murderesses and presided over by Matron “Mama” Morton, whose system of mutual aid perfectly suits her clientele. Money can buy you anything in Chicago, and their lives in prison are made considerably more comfortable by the many little extras provided for them by Mama Morton. She has helped Velma become the media’s top murderer-of-the-week and is acting as booking agent for Velma’s big return to vaudeville (after her acquittal, naturally).
Velma is not happy to see Roxie, who is stealing not only her limelight but her lawyer, Billy Flynn, who is eagerly awaited by his all-girl clientele. Flynn takes Roxie’s case and rearranges her story for consumption by a sympathetic tabloid columnist. Roxie’s press conference turns into a ventriloquist act with Flynn dictating a new version of the truth while Roxie mouths the words. Roxie becomes the new toast of Chicago and Velma’s headlines, trial date and career are left in the dust. The ever-resourceful Roxie, when her own celebrity is replaced by the latest sordid crime of passion, decides that being pregnant in prison would put her back on the front page.
Vaudeville penetrates every pore of Chicago life, even the judicial system. Everyone has an act, and notoriety equals publicity, which in turn equals influence and success. Guided by Flynn and hindered by arch-rival Velma, Roxie embarks on a quest that could either end in fame and fortune or in the hangman’s noose.
Tickets for Chicago are $10 and are available by calling (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1200, or toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321, Ext. 1200. Check, credit card and cash orders are accepted. For more information about Chicago, contact Webb at Ext. 1295.
(In order of appearance)
Master of Ceremonies--Nathan Kinkade--Benton
Velma Kelly--Mariel Reynolds--Mt. Vernon
Roxie Hart--Jennifer Norman--Benton
Fred Casely / Dancer--Kyle Upchurch--Benton
Sergeant Fogarty--Scott Carlson--Mt. Vernon
Amos Hart--Darren Hutson--Sesser
Martin Harrison / Dancer--Jason Sinkhorn--Benton
Mama Morton--Julie Pearson--Mt. Vernon
Billy Flynn--Dave Bogan--Belle Rive
Mary Sunshine--Lauren Whiting--Mt. Vernon
Harry / Dancer--Timothy Learned--Mulkeytown
Aaron / Dancer--Chris Lowery--McLeansboro
The Judge / Dancer--Chris Shelton--Bluford
Court Clerk / Reporter--Brooke Meritt--Mt. Vernon
First Reporter / Dancer--Eric Shelton--Bluford
Second Reporter / Juror--Mary Swofford--Mt. Vernon
Third Reporter / Juror--Maranda Pedigo--McLeansboro
Reporter / Juror--Jennifer Scott--Mt. Vernon
Cell Block Tango Gal--Brittany Leggans--Mt. Vernon
Cell Block Tango Gal--Erin Bond--Mt. Vernon
Cell Block Tango Gal--Anna Dukes--Bluford
Cell Block Tango Gal--Kristi Lueker--Mt. Vernon
Cell Block Tango Gal--Kellyn Tennyson--Dahlgren
Cell Block Tango Gal--Lindsay Hughes--McLeansboro
Cell Block Tango Gal--Emily Mestel--Mt. Vernon