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Kensington Arts Theatre Chicago

By • Oct 12th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Chicago
Kensington Arts Theatre
Kensington Town Hall, Kensington, MD
Through October 30th
2:00 with one intermission
$20/$17 Seniors and Students
Reviewed October 8th, 2010

Steamy, sexy, and full of pizzazz, the Kensington Arts Theatre’s production of Chicago is an evening of pure fun. Co-directors Andrea Spitz and Diego Prieto have teamed up to create a terrific show for audiences.

The shining stars of the evening were Arielle Bayer, music director, and Diego Prieto, choreographer. Together they were a well oiled-machine. Musical numbers sparkled and kept the audience engaged. Ensemble pieces were especially impressive, with great vocal and instrumental blending, as well as tight and polished choreography.

Dani Stoller as Roxie Hart did a marvelous job combining adorable and sassy without alienating her audience. Her vocal quality was very pleasant and her musical expressiveness brought Roxie to life. The vitality of her performance, coupled with the energy of the ensemble carried the show to its successful conclusion.

On the other hand, two leads in particular could have used an extra cup of coffee to boost their energy. Erin McNerney as Velma Kelly, despite flawless execution and phenomenal breath control during “Can’t Do It Alone,” actually looked bored with her role. Michael Cropper lacked the sleazy charisma that characterizes the character of Billy Flynn and failed to convince me.

Some stand out talent includes Terry Barr as Mary Sunshine. His falsetto was top-notch during “A Little Bit of Good.” Josh Doyle as Amos Hart was very effective at drawing in his audience. In fact, they were so sympathetic that their applause was his “exit music” when the orchestra didn’t play for him.

Costumes, designed by Eleanor Dicks, were dazzling throughout almost the entire show. “Razzle Dazzle” could have used more dazzle. In my opinion, it would have been better to emphasize “Razzle Dazzle” rather than “All I Care About.” Otherwise, the outfits were sexy and evocative without being sleazy.

The set, designed by Andrew Greenleaf, had enough sparkle to draw the eye without overwhelming the eye. The design was very versatile and lent to quick scene changes and storing set pieces onstage, while keeping them out of sight. Coupled with lighting design by Kevin Boyce, piquant moments in the show were enhanced.

The music, the visuals, and the ensemble make this production of Chicago. There’s enough of the movie to keep fans happy, but plenty of original interpretation to keep the story fresh and exciting. If you want a polished musical without paying an arm and a leg at the Kennedy Center, this show is for you!

From the Directors

Notorious. Infamous. Scandalous. English has a lot of words to describe something that is widely and unfavorably famous. And is it any wonder? Our interest in the celebrity criminal (or the criminal celebrity) goes back so far that it seems a fundamental part of our collective psyche. John Wilkes Booth. Brutus. Eve and that darned snake. Hate the sin, but love, love, love the sinner.

During Prohibition, one of America’s favorite sins went underground. As the popularity of speakeasies – establishments that sold liquor illegally – grew, so did the criminal activity that supported this underground world. The Chicago political machine, already known for controversy and corruption, allowed organized crime to flourish, and Chicago became a hub for bootleggers transporting alcohol from Canada into the States. At one point, Al Capone and his syndicate controlled some 10,000 speakeasies in Chicago. Newspapers looking to drive circulation embraced rime stories and their sensational headlines; the era of the celebrity criminal was born. As motion pictures and radio became more commonplace, this infatuation with celebrity criminals old grew. Although Andy Warhol wouldn’t coin the term for another half-century, 15 minutes of fame could easily be won with a splashy bank robbery or murder.

But despite this seamy underbelly, the Roaring Twenties were a time of prosperity and social change. The American economy flourished. Jazz music and social dancing thrived. Women gained voting rights, attended college in record numbers, and fought to overturn laws that perpetuated the sexual and racial discrimination of the Victorian era. Interracial and homosexual relationships were accepted, even prompted by mainstream media as social and sexual liberation collided. The Great Depression would usher in a new conservatism, but for one shining decade minds were opened and progress was made.

This is the world we invite you to visit during our production of Chicago – a whoopee spot with great music, unrestrained sensuality, and plenty of underground booze. In our club tonight, the floor show revolves around two beautiful, dangerous women. Roxie and Velma manipulate the media to win absolution and acclaim; they win their freedom and their fame, but all too soon the spotlight fades. As Billy says “You’re a phony celebrity, kid. You’re a flash in the pan. In a couple of weeks, nobody’ll even know who you are.” That’s Chicago.

Hotcha!

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Kensington Arts Theatre.

Cast

  • Velma Kelly: Erin McNerney
  • Roxie Hart: Dani Stoler
  • Billy Flynn: Michael Cropper
  • Amos Hart: Josh Doyle
  • Matron Mama Morton: Karen Plummer
  • Proprietor: Quentin Nash Sagers
  • Annie: Christina Addabbo Prete
  • Mona: Eliza Jane
  • June: Emily L. Sergo
  • Hell Kitty: Tia Dolet
  • Veronica: Christina Wolfgram
  • Hunyak: Laura Gepford
  • Liz: Liz Harless
  • Mary Sunshine: Terry Barr
  • Fred Casely: Stephen Hock
  • Aaron: Chris Galindo
  • Harrison: Tim Adams
  • Fogarty: Mark Hidalgo
  • Faux Roxie: Christina Wolfgram
  • Faux Amos: Philip McLeod
  • Ensemble Tim Adams, Tia Dolet, Chris Galindo, Laura Gepford, Liz Harless, Mark Hidalgo, Stephen Hock, Eliza Jane, Jeramiah Miller, Christina Addabbo Prete, Emily L. Sergo, Christina Wolfgram

Production Staff

  • Producer: Craig Pettinati
  • Directors: Andrea Spitz, Diego Prieto
  • Asst. Director/Dramaturg Marie Coyle
  • Music Director: Arielle Bayer
  • Choreographer: Diego Prieto
  • Asst. Choreographer/Dance Captain: Christina Prete
  • Choreography Consultant: Kyle Pleasant
  • Stage Manager: Donna Shute
  • Scenic Design: Andrew Greenleaf
  • Master Caprenter: Joy Wyne
  • Sceneic Painting Design: Andrew Greenleaf, Andrea Spitz, Chris Charboneau
  • Construction/Painting Crew: Joy Wyne, Andrew Greenleaf, Nancy Davis, Kevin Boyce, Jenna Ballard, Matt Karner, Karen Plummer, Josh Doyle, Jeremiah Miller, Craig Pettinati, Chris Charboneau, Phil McLeod, Andrea Spitz, Michael Nansel, Brad Oscar, Diego Prieto, Darnell Morris, Liz Harless, Doe Kim, James Chan, Arielle Bayer, Q Sagers, Erin McNerney
  • Properties/Asst. Stage Manager: Jenna Ballard
  • Scenic Decoration: Jenna Ballard, Diego Prieto, Andrew Greenleaf, Andrea Spitz
  • Lighting Design: Kevin Boyce
  • Spotlight Operator: Doe B. Kim
  • Sound Design: Kevin P. Garrett
  • Sound Execution: Mike Ricci, Kevin P. Garrett
  • Costume Design: Eleanor Dicks
  • Special Effects: Kevin Boyce, Andrew Greenleaf
  • Makeup/Hair Design: Stephen D. Welsh
  • Program Cover/ Photography: Ernie Achenbach
  • Program Design/House Manager: Doe B. Kim

Orchestra

  • Music Director: Arielle Bayer
  • Tuba: Jeff Johns
  • Reeds: Gwyn Jones
  • Trumpet: Paul Weiss
  • Trombone: David Brenneman
  • Percussion: Shaun Rodger
  • Keyboard II: Leah Kocsis

Disclaimer: Kensington Arts Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

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