In the 17 years since the musical “Chicago” last was presented locally, at Kent State University Stark Campus in 1995, the show has become a razzle-dazzle phenomenon.
The critically hailed 1996 Broadway revival of “Chicago” earned six Tony Awards, is still running successfully in New York after 15 years and has toured North America 10 times. The 2002 screen version of “Chicago,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah, received the Academy Award for best picture.
And now, “Chicago” is returning to Canton, in a North Canton Playhouse production being staged next weekend, aptly, at the Palace Theatre, a vaudeville and movie palace built in 1926.
Director Dana Anderson is breathlessly excited about the production. “The show is going very, very well,” she says about rehearsals. “We have a lot of new people in our cast, new to this area and new to our theater. Our leads are outstanding vocally and dance-wise.”
Anderson, who just graduated from the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in theater, cast two actresses from the Stow area as the fame-seeking, murderous, Prohibition-era showgirls of “Chicago” — Julia Zook as tough-as-nails Velma Kelly and Kaylee Yutzy as the wannabe star Roxie Hart. The show’s other leads are North Canton Playhouse veterans: Jeff White as slick attorney Billy Flynn, Donna Rasicci as prison matron “Mama” Morton and Brian O. Jackson as Roxie’s ignored husband Amos.
The cast of 23 ranges in age from 15 to 50. To ensure a fresh take on the show, the cast members have avoided watching the “Chicago” film or listening to its recordings.
Choreographing the dance-heavy show is Tiffeny Brown. “She is amazing.
I couldn’t ask to work with anyone better,” Anderson says. “The choreography is beautiful and so true to the (original choreographer Bob) Fosse element of the show.” As with the Broadway revival, this local “Chicago” is using minimal scenery, a monochromatic color palette and an on-stage band.
Performances of “Chicago” are at 8 p.m. July 21 and 2:30 p.m. July 22. Tickets, $25, may be purchased online at www.northcantonplayhouse.com or by phone at 330-454-8172.
The theater department at Kent State University Stark Campus has announced its productions for the 2012-13 season. Scheduled are:
— “Buried Child” by Sam Shepard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a dysfunctional Midwestern family with a very dark secret, Nov. 2 through 11.
— “I Love You Because” by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham, a romantic musical about the relationship between an uptight greeting-card writer and a flighty photographer, Feb. 15 through 24.
— “Voices from Hurt Street” by students in Kent Stark’s Devising Theatre course, a theater piece about abusive relationships, social injustice, hurt and healing, April 12 through 21.
— “The Crucible” by Robert Ward and Bernard Stambler, an opera based on Arthur Miller’s play about accused witches on trial in Salem, Mass., June 7 through 9.
Page 2 of 2 - PALACE GOES PINK
The popular and highly visual Cleveland-based Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here will appear in concert Sept. 8 at Canton’s Palace Theatre. This concert, presented by local businessman Bud Buxton, will benefit the non-profit Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children Inc.
Joe Vitale, Chris Wintrip & Friends will open the show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $30, may be ordered at 330-454-8172 and www.cantonplalacetheatre.org.
JANE IN MEMORIAM
Jane Scott met and interviewed a slew of rock, pop and R&B stars and covered every major concert in Cleveland during her 50-year career as the music writer at The Plain Dealer. And now, fittingly, she has found a permanent place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Scott, who died last July at age 92, just nine years after her retirement, is commemorated with a newly installed life-size bronze sculpture in the museum’s lower lobby. The Rock Hall’s library is serving as home to more than 4,000 vinyl albums from Scott’s collection, her personal observations in notebooks, writing pads with notes from interviews, numerous photographs of Scott with musicians, a box of Beatles ephemera and more.