Viroqua Community Theatre will take theater-goers to the 1920s when it presents “Chicago: The Musical,” July 26-28 and Aug. 2-4 at the Landmark Center Theater.
According to broadway.com, “Set in the legendary city during the roaring “jazz hot” 20s, Chicago tells the story of two rival vaudevillian murderesses locked up in Cook County Jail. Nightclub star Velma’s serving time for killing her husband and sister after finding the two in bed together. Driven chorus girl Roxie’s been tossed in the joint for bumping off the lover she’s been cheating on her husband with. Not one to rest on her laurels, Velma enlists the help of prison matron Mama Morton and slickster lawyer Billy Flynn, who turn Velma’s incarceration into a murder-of-the-week media frenzy, thus preparing the world for a splashy showbiz comeback. But Roxie’s got some of her own tricks up her sleeve…”
Peter “Pita” Daniels is the director of the musical, which features a 19-member cast and a jazz band. “Chicago” is the second VCT production that Daniels has directed. In the fall of 2013 he directed Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart” at The Ark.
“I have been involved in theatrical productions for a while now, going back to college, from pulling the main curtain, to running crew, technical support, teaching, acting, directing and some script writing,” Daniels said in an email.
This is the first time VCT will produce a show in the Landmark Center. Some past shows have been produced at The Historic Temple Theatre.
“The cast and crew are really excited because the atmosphere of the old auditorium supports the setting of a 1927 Chicago speakeasy,” Daniels said. “We intend to immerse our audience in the world of vaudeville and speakeasy entertainment. The songs are very catchy and fun. The dancing will pay homage to vaudeville... a lot of variety. And since Bob Fosse was influenced by vaudeville and burlesque, I am proud of the scenic design, costumes and choreography — our production is an effort to pay homage to this American icon (the only person to ever win an Oscar, Tony and Grammy in the same year). ‘Chicago’ was remounted in 1997 I think, and has been running on-Broadway ever since.”
Daniels said VCT secured a beer and wine license for the run, so the audience can come enjoy some pre-show beverages and entertainment in the “speakeasy” (lobby) before the house opens.
“Once in ‘the house,’ 7:30 starts us off and there will be a fair amount of audience interaction,” he said. “Some of the performers will interact with the band, and most will be onstage for almost all of the two-and-a-half-hour running time (includes an intermission). Expect mature themes, language and dress in a glitzy world of dark humor and satire.”
Because of the adult themes, the production is recommended for audiences aged 13 and over.
The book is by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The musical is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, with script adaption by David Thompson. “Chicago” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.