Chicago turns things up to 11
What does it take to get a musical theatre production off the ground and onto the stage? Chicago the musical opens New Years Eve at the Key City Theatre, and the cast and crew have been hard at work for months already, getting things ready for what is sure to be a triumphant opening.
The group of 25 actors, 13 musicians, and countless members of the production team have all been busy working to pull it together. Beginning August 26 at the first read through, the group has been meeting 3 times a week to rehearse and polish the numbers. By the time the production opens each member of this dream team will have dedicated hundreds of hours to rehearsals and personal practice, memorizing dance steps and songs, learning lines and working on character development.
Why would any sane person spend so much time on something like this? We asked a few of the cast members to explain the draw that keeps them coming back time and again for more.
Landon Elliott who has taken on the role of Billy Flynn, lawyer and flimflam artist, works a more than full time job at Golden Life Management, sharing his time between the head office in Cranbrook and the Calgary division. He loves his work. And he loves to be involved in the community. “A sucker for punishment as it were,” Landon became involved in local theatre 2 years ago and has been in several productions since that time.
“To me, theatre is a form of recharge. It is a community of people from all walks of life who come together and put all their energy into making each other the best we can be. It is a place where I can completely clear my mind as I try and become someone else.”
Elliott’s role as Billy Flynn is his largest and most challenging to date.
“Musicals are similar to theatre in the ability to recharge, but it is like taking the community and support of theatre and turning it up to an eleven. It is such a fun place to be, and such a great group to be a part of, I will continue to come back for more if they will have me.”
Emily Bohmer is no stranger to the musical theatre stage. Her involvement in local musicals dates back to her 3rd grade debut in the Mt. Baker production of Les Miserables. She was hooked and continues to participate whenever her busy life as a fulltime college student allows. She is playing the role of Roxie Hart, vaudeville chorus gal and murderess, who craves stardom even more than freedom. Bohmer counts the musical productions as the best part of her year.
“The cast is absolutely stellar and the work environment is so much fun. We become a family and hold each other up through this crazy process.”
Not only does she play one of the lead roles, Emily has also taken on the role of Vocal Director, teaching the songs to the cast members and helping them to achieve a superb level of excellence in their performance.
“I love seeing this community come together to build something that we can all be so proud of. The end result is great, but it’s the process of getting there that makes it all worthwhile.”
Chicago has many big, flashy song and dance numbers, and the ensemble cast has a huge role in pulling it all together. Nicole Jung works hard all week at her job at the RDEK, along with raising two busy teenagers and running a small farm, but she makes time for her passions.
“I feel life is about fitting the good stuff into a busy schedule. This musical is good stuff.”
First seen on Cranbrook stage last year in the hit Cranbrook Community Theatre play, Plaza Suite, Nicole won the coveted Abbott Award for Favorite Newcomer. This year she decided to take the leap into musical theatre.
“The reason I auditoned is because I love musicals and musical theatre. I am glad I auditoned and got the part because of the people I get to work with - everyone wants to be there and loves it as much as I do. Everyone says they’re busy, I say I am living the dream, my dream. It’s my thing, my hobby and I love it.”
Another newcomer to Cranbrook theatre scene is Shannon Edmonstone who is taking on the role of tough talking murderess, Velma Kelly. Shannon and her family moved to the area very recently. Her daughter originally scheduled an audition but decided to back away because of her busy schedule at Mt. Baker, and on a lark Shannon took the audition spot. Her leap of faith landed her smack dab at the centre of a strong and talented cast.
“As cheesy as it is, my children were my inspiration. We have moved across the country for my husband’s job twice in the last 5 years, away from our family and friends, so my focus has been on encouraging my daughters to put themselves out there, face their fears, meet people, and get involved in things they love - sports, dance, choir, etc. So when the opportunity to audition for this show came up I realized that this was my chance to walk the talk. Show my kids that even though I was nervous and might completely flop, I had to try.”
Shannon was active in musical theatre in her younger years and the time away from the stage has not lessened her ability to command it with her triple threat talent.
“It makes for a busy life, yes, but I’m having fun, doing something I love, and most importantly I’ve made the most fabulous group of friends!”
Chicago opens New Years Eve and runs January 11, 12, 13, 18 & 19 at the Key City Theatre. Brought to us by the same creative team that staged the smash hit The Producers, last January, Chicago promises to take local theatre to a whole new level of fun. Tickets are available at the Key City Theatre box office, by phone at (250) 426-7006 or online at keycitytheatre.com .