The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle comes to CWU
Central Theatre Ensemble's production of "Chicago" opens tonight at the Milo Smith Tower Theatre
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The CWU Department of Theatre Arts opens the doors of the Milo Smith Tower Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. for the first production of spring quarter: CWU’s rendition of the acclaimed musical “Chicago.”
Roxie Hart (played by Savannah Brady) is a bright-eyed young woman who wants to make it in show business. Along the way she ends up killing her lover, whom she is having an affair with, and ends up in prison. There she meets her idol, the famous Velma Kelly (played by Megan Tudor and Jane Goetz) along with several other female inmates. Before Roxie can make it to the big stage, she must charm the public and get out of jail.
There is a mostly female cast with two main male characters: Billy Flynn (played by Isaac Lee and Jeff Rowden), Roxie’s lawyer, and Amos Hart (played by Benjamin Usher and Evan Duncan), Roxie’s husband. The show is well known for its musical numbers such as “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango”.
Another changed aspect of the production is that four of the lead characters have been double casted. Double casting just means that there are two actresses or actors who will be performing on different nights. Actresses Megan Tudor and Jane Goetz, for example, will each play Velma Kelly but on different nights during the show’s cycle. The decision to double-cast was made because the Central Theatre Ensemble will be participating in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF).
At the KCACTF, students will have a chance to showcase their work in front of thousands of their peers. However, the festival doesn’t allow for seniors to participate, so the younger actors will be participating for this performance.
The double-casting also means that audience members will have the chance to see one of two performances depending on what day they go to the theatre. Goetz, a sophomore theatre arts major, is excited about sharing the role of Velma Kelly and recommends that people go to see both casts’ performances.
“It’s an opportunity for all the lead actors to put their own skills to use in their performances,” Terri Brown, assistant director of the show, said. “Their individuality really affects the fl ow of the production.”
The director of the show is Nicholas Main, a student at CWU who will be graduating this spring with a degree in theatre arts. Main has been a member of the Central Theatre Ensemble for all four years of his time at CWU. Although this is his first time directing, he says he isn’t letting the nerves get to him. According to Main, he is excited to have a chance to direct a play with a predominantly female cast.
“We decided to perform this play to give a chance to feature the women in our program and show how strong they are,” Main said.
He also mentioned that they would stick to the original script and choreography and only add a few minor differences.
Another major contributor to the production is Terri Brown, director of the musical studies program at CWU, who is the assistant director of the show. Brown is confident in the ensemble’s ability and is very excited to have Main direct the show. She spoke highly of him and referred to him as a “bright star” in the program.
This rendition of the musical will have one noticeable difference than the original production: The ensemble has opted to use a computer queue instead of an orchestra to play the show’s music. Using a computer for music is common for shows done in the Milo Smith Tower Theatre, but it is unusual for the “Chicago” production. David Brown, musical director of Central Theatre Ensemble productions, will control the music queues.
“It gives us a lot more control of the pace of the show and leads to less mistakes,” said Megan Tudor, a senior theatre arts major who is one of the actresses playing Velma Kelly.
Show times are:
April 13-15, 20-21, 22 7:30 p.m.
April 15 & 21 11:00 p.m.
Ticket prices: $8 CWU students w/ID, $10 kids, $12 seniors, $15 General Admission