By Allison Bellucci, Contributing Writer
“Razzle Dazzle” and “All that Jazz”, the UNH Theatre Department rendition of “Chicago” has hit the Paul Creative Arts Center. The show opened on Wednesday, Nov. 5, to be followed by shows Thursday, Friday, Saturday night and a Sunday matinee.
The well-known Broadway revival, “Chicago” holds the record for the longest-running musical revival. It’s also the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the third longest-running show behind “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats”.
“Chicago” takes place in the mid 1920s in Chicago, Illinois. It introduces main characters Roxie Hart, who shoots the man she had an affair with, and Velma Kelly, who murdered her husband and sister after she finds them in bed. The play follows their fight for fame and freedom, mixed in with endless show stopping musical numbers.
Kicking the show off with the well-known “All That Jazz” musical number, Allie Wing, playing the roll of Velma Kelly, captured the audience with her powerful yet stylized voice. Although Wing stole the spotlight with this number, the dancers Fossie-stylized moments knocked the ball out of the park.
Sexy, character-fitting costumes constantly impressed the audience. The multitude of various black-and-red-lace numbers truly gave the play that traditional “Chicago-feel”. Soon to follow “All That Jazz”, the “Cellblock Tango” is another musical number you don’t want to miss. The brilliant choreography by Mary Beth Marino and assisted by Cristina White was executed perfectly by the dancers.
The actors in “Chicago” had many comical moments, giving the audience no choice but to laugh out loud. One of the funniest numbers, “Class” is a duet preformed by Bri Ryder and Allie Wing. This number is definitely one to look forward to.
The sassy performance of Brianne Kennedy, playing Roxie, left the audience always wanting more. In addition to her flawless vocal performance, Kennedy dazzled the theatre with her strong stage presence.
Two other amazing performances were by Robert Collinge playing Amos Hart, and Taylor Morrow playing Billy Flynn. Both actors convinced the audience of their part. Once the characters were introduced, the audience quickly fell in love with both.
After many weeks of rehearsals, the UNH players were excited open their show. Alex Bradsell, preforming the roll of Katalin Hunyak, a Hungarian women who only speaks two English words in the entire play, was “ecstatic to perform the show and see the audience’s reaction.”
“The director, John Berst, has put much effort into making the show the best it can be as he has guided us through the whole process and taught us our music and blocking,” she said before performances began .“I am excited to also start using the costumes and the set, as it will bring the production to life and we will all be able to get into our characters more easily.”
Before the show, Brasdell mentioned a few favorite scenes she was excited to perform. “I am looking forward to performing ‘Cell Block Tango’, as it is probably one of the most famous numbers in ‘Chicago’, next to ‘All That Jazz’,” she said. “The choreography, by Mary Beth Marino and Cristina White, is very appropriate to the style of Fosse and brings a lot of energy to the show.”
Taylor Morrow is playing the roll of Billy Flynn, a challenging roll for his natural personality. However, he too was excited to preform the classic Broadway show.
“This show is so ‘Broadway’ in that it really is so much larger than life which allows you to really play and just go crazy. In some ways it has also been incredibly challenging,” he said. “This role is so unlike myself that stepping into his shoes and making it believable is incredibly difficult. But challenges are good, because they make you better.”
In the last week of rehersals, lead-woman Kennedy spoke of the hard work that goes into putting on a show. “Rehearsals have been non-stop for all of us (the cast), we meet six days a week from six to ten,” she said, “I’ve been doing this since freshman year so you get use to it, but it doesn’t make it easier.”
Although the cast and crew ran into struggles and road-blocks while preparing for opening night, Kennedy knew hard work is just a part of the process.
“Difficulties come with every show you go into, whether it’s challenging choreography or getting used to the set. So far we’ve made it through all of the battles that have faced us, but it’s basically been a smooth ride start to finish.”
To purchase tickets for “Chicago,” visit http://cola.unh.edu/pcac/event/chicago or the box office located in the Paul Creative Arts Center. Ticket pricing is $18 for General Public, $15 for UNH ID/Seniors/Group 15+ and $8 for Youth (17 and under).