‘Chicago’ production will electrify

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Jordan Parkhurst

 

 

On Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 the Appalachian Musical Theatre Club will perform the Tony, Grammy and Oscar winning musical “Chicago” in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of the Plemmons Student Union.

The production, directed and choreographed by Ray Miller, is fueled by excitement and an eagerness to learn. The cast boasts a wide variety of experience levels and majors, stage manager Bridget Mundy said.

“We have two kids from pre-law, two are biology majors and one is a math major. The fact that musical theater and this show have brought these people together, who would otherwise not hang out, makes the show worth coming to see,” she said.

Mundy spoke about the tangible sense of enthusiasm among the unique and dynamic cast and crew.

“This cast is so passionate and you can see it in every rehearsal,” she said. “They’re so talented, and everyone wants to be together and work so hard. Some of them have never done theater before and are so willing to learn,” she said.

Emily Robinson is a junior theatre education major who serves as assistant stage manager alongside Mundy. Robinson frequently acts in campus productions, and agrees that the eagerness and talent of the cast makes this production exceptional.

“My favorite part of the process was working with the cast. A lot of them are freshmen, which is a really great thing,” she said. “And just getting to know each and every one of them and seeing their talents – which are amazing – has really been an honor. It’s a well-known show, and I think we do it justice.”

This passion Mundy and Robinson speak of is observable in every cast member, including transfer student and math major, Elizabeth Galbraith.

For Galbraith, this high-energy, prohibition-set satire will mark her first theatrical production while in college. She is thrilled to return to her passion at Appalachian State after an involuntary break from the theater world, she said.

“I did a lot of musical theater in high school,” she said. “And then, at the school I transferred from, if you weren’t a major, you couldn’t be in any of the productions. So when I transferred here, I was like ‘Yes! I can be in all this stuff.’”

Galbraith spoke about her experience as the powerful and iconic matron of the Cook County Jail, “Mama.”

“I love all the big dance numbers when we’re all on the stage together. Pretty much any of the group numbers are my favorite,” Galbraith said. “And I’m super excited to be Mama. It’s kind of a powerhouse woman role. She owns herself, she knows her routine and she is so confident. And it’s good to see that.”

On a different end of the spectrum is Darius Gregory, a veteran of the App stages and president of the Appalachian Musical Theatre Club.

In “Chicago,” Gregory plays a lead role, the charming but slippery attorney Billy Flynn. The show is at the top of his performance list, which  is extensive he said.

“This whole process has been honestly one of the easiest rehearsal periods that I’ve ever been through. The people are so easy to get along with, and they learn things so quickly,” he said. “They retain a lot of information and a lot of choreography.”

Gregory called Miller the “genius behind the show.”

“Ray Miller has got to be one of the most creative people that I’ve ever met. The way his mind works is unbelievable, and the way he dances and choreographs is beyond me. He moves his feet in ways I can’t, and in ways most people in this cast can’t. We’re so appreciative of him,” Gregory said.

For those who are fans of the film and plan to see the play this weekend, the cast points out that it will be different but equally exciting.

“The play is based more on how journalism and the news react to drama in the real world, how they blow things up, and how they play things,” Galbraith said. “And the movie is more about the alternate reality. They focused more on the telling of the story and the perspectives.”

Gregory hopes the audiences are receptive to the potentially unfamiliar version of a film favorite.

“A lot of people have seen the movie but they haven’t seen the musical, so I’m hoping that they appreciate the musical for what it is, because it’s a complete separate thing from the movie. It’s more of a spectacle,” he said.

Miller, with the help of a highly skilled crew and a stunningly talented cast, will bring this beloved show to the students of Appalachian this weekend. This “spectacle” is both a talent showcase and an opportunity to experience the excitement that radiates through the entire production.

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 11 in the Blue Ridge Ballroom. A contact table near Cascades in the student union will be selling tickets from 1-5 p.m. through Friday, and tickets will also be available at the door.

Story by: Jordan Parkhurt, Intern A&E Reporter

Photos by: Monique Rivera