Glitz! Glam! Grit! Chicago rehearsals are well underway and have been going very well.
The cast launched this journey Feb. 10 with the first read-through. Music rehearsals started the following day with choral and orchestra director Dr. Keith Haan. Two weeks later, director Dr. Corinne Johnson and choreographer Shellee Frazee '00 began teaching the cast the movement components of the show.
Johnson commented that it has been a year since she last directed. "I'm so excited. Working with the blocking and character development has reminded me why I like my job so much," Johnson said. She also said that she is "thrilled by the work ethic of the actors in this show."
Frazee has expertly combined the classic Fosse style with her own flare. She has encouraged the cast to use the choreography to further enhance their characters. "I am loving the process. It's so great to be back at St. Ambrose. It feels like home," Frazee said.
"The Chicago cast has been great to work with," Haan said. "They have a lot of energy and dedication to the show. I saw Chicago on Broadway in New York recently. I was wishing the cast could have been there to see it. I think we're going to stack up with the pros just fine."
He continues to work with the cast to bring the best vocal performance to the show.
Costume Designer Dianne Dye says the costumes are going well. The show contains a combination of costumes that are black-only in some scenes but other scenes contain very glitzy and flashy costumes. Some were purchased and others were made specifically for the interpretation of this show.
The set will enhance the spectacle that goes along with a musical like Chicago.
"The mechanical design for this show has been more intense than usual," set designer Kris Eitrheim said. He has employed a variety of moving scenery pieces, such as three lifts (counter-weighted, manually-operated elevators), rolling jail bars, a trap door, and an elevated platform upon which the orchestra will be in full view of the audience for the show's entirety.
Other elements include the amount of scenic lighting with marquis-style lights and the use of blacklight. The set, like the costumes, will transform between a more industrial look to something more glitzy and showy. Eitrheim has some other tricks up his sleeve that are sure to thrill the audience.
"This show contains a lot of props," said Cami Sackett '14, crew head of props. The team is using a blend of props owned by the department, borrowed, rented, and some made specifically for this show.
Guest designer Jeffrey Peltz is lighting designer for the show and taking two weeks away from his full-time job as professor at the University Central Missouri to join us here at St. Ambrose.
"To me, a good part of Chicago is a series of contrasts," Peltz said. "Elegance and vulgarity, class and crass, vital vs. trivial, news vs. gossip. There is a blatant sense of raw theatricality inherent in the book and score that we will be using throughout the production, a fluid unit setting, exposed lighting instruments, echoes of vaudeville, circus performance and a dash of Brecht. Intimate moments contrast with full scenes full of flash and 'razzle dazzle.' The show is a wild ride through bright, glittering streets and dark, frightening alleyways."
"Come to the show! It's going to be wonderful!," said Eileen Eitrheim, who is leading the marketing team. "This production is very special because Keith is retiring and it will be his last production with us as a faculty member. And we have Shellee Frazee choreographing, while teaching a course on Fosse. How much better does it get! I'm personally very excited about the show and can't wait to see it."
The marketing team has been doing a great deal of work to get the word out about the show, and it's working! Tickets have already started selling in a greater than anticipated way. So be sure to get your tickets in advance and soon.
The entire team continues to work vigorously to bring the best production to the stage. Chicago will be a wonderful show with which to end the 2012-2013 season.
Performances are Friday and Saturday, April 19 & 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m. in Allaert Auditorium of the Galvin Fine Arts Center. Tickets can be reserved through the Galvin Box Office by calling 563-333-6251 or online.