The SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance invites audiences to step into the world of showgirls, vaudeville and celebrity crime when it opens the 2012-13 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series with the razzle-dazzle musical "Chicago."
Six performances are planned from Friday through Oct. 27 in Marvel Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center on the SUNY Fredonia campus. Dates and show times are Friday, Saturday, and Oct. 25, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Oct. 21.
"Chicago" is sponsored by Midtown Realty as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season. Directing the show is Paul W. Mockovak, professor of theatre and dance, whose recent productions at SUNY Fredonia include "Charley's Aunt" and "Kiss Me, Kate."
The SUNY Fredonia production of “Chicago” stars, from left, Madison Osgood as Roxie Hart, Clayton Howe as Billy Flynn and Deanna Jelardi as Velma Kelly. It opens Friday and runs for six performances in Marvel Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center.
"'Chicago' is one of those iconic shows that generates a great deal of interest," Mockovak said. "We are excited to present the musical to open our season. It's been a title the department has wanted to do for several years, but rights have not been available until this year for us."
Set in the Windy City during the Prohibition-era, the story follows two would-be starlets accused of murder who become cell-block rivals as they try to turn their "celebrity status" into a ticket to stardom. The music and lyrics are by John Kander and Fred Ebb with a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. "Identified as a 'Bob Fosse show,' the Department of Theatre and Dance will be making the production one with our own stamp, but also with homage to Mr. Fosse," Mockovak said. "As director/choreographer, I will be utilizing my own style and aesthetic but also give the staging and dance a definite nod to Fosse."
From the start, Mockovak noted there has been an "outstanding buzz" about this production, which is presented in association with the School of Music.
"We have an incredibly talented production team of students and faculty including Dr. Paula Holcomb (of the School of Music), who is working hand-in-hand with me as we shape the theatrical and musical arc of the story," Mockovak said. "Student set designer Theresa Pierce, who did the beautiful set for last season's production of 'Stage Door,' has created an amazing set reflecting the vaudeville theatricality of the media circus surrounding our two heroines, Roxie and Velma (played by Madison Osgood and Deanna Jelardi), and their lawyer Billy Flynn (played by Clay Howe). Sculpting the actors and set with the lighting design is the team of associate professor Todd Proffitt and student designer Samantha Sayers. Rounding out the design team will be the beautiful costume work of faculty member Dixon Reynolds."
More than 170 students will be involved in the production.
"It is always amazing to have a great concept and design, but it also takes the craftsmen and artisans to build and create, the musicians to bring the musical score to life and the actors to bring the characters story to the stage," Mockovak said. "We had approximately 104 audition for the 21 spaces in the cast."
The director said the pit will hold 19 musicians, the design production team and backstage personnel will number approximately 49, and there will be 44 people working to create costumes, with an equal number building the set and hanging the lights.
"All totaled, about 177 will be involved in bringing 'Chicago' to life in a short amount of time," Mockovak said. "Holding the reins for all of this during the rehearsal and performance process is my stage manager Liz Ellis."
"Chicago" contains adult themes and language and may not be suitable for younger viewers. Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center at 673-3501 or fredonia.edu/tickets. The curtain time for all mainstage evening productions will be 7:30 p.m. this season. The Sunday matinees will be at 2 p.m.