After roughly 10 weeks of rehearsals, the cast of “Chicago” is finally taking the stage this week, with a five-day run from Wednesday to Sunday.
For director Marc Schapman, “Chicago” stands out from all of the other shows that he’s directed at SIUE since he began directing here in 2007, as it is filled with complex choreography.
“When you do any other type of musical, usually there’s one or two really big show-stopping numbers, but with this show there’s dance number after dance number,” Schapman said.
Because of this, Schapman has worked very closely with Kristin Best Kinscherff, the show’s choreographer, and junior assistant choreographer and URCA assistant Kristen Ahring.
Recognizing how taxing learning the choreography can be to the student actors, Schapman took a slightly different rehearsal approach, starting with short rehearsals before moving into the standard four-hour ones. This allowed Best Kinscherff to gradually introduce the choreography.
“If anybody knew any of these students at the beginning of the semester to now, they would be super impressed with the amount of improvement that all of them have shown,” Schapman said.
The fame of the show poses a unique dilemma: preconceived notions from both the cast and the audience.
Despite this, SIUE has worked to discover its own vision for the musical. Hints of Bob Fosse’s version will be seen in Dunham, such as costuming alluding to the 1920s setting. Some entirely new metal elements are present, like the covered pit designed to add to the jailhouse feel.
Schapman has also hosted conversations with each of the actors to aid them in discovering and implementing their own visions of their characters.
The actors were also encouraged to look to the script to get to know their characters, a process that has helped senior musical theater major Zora Vredeveld, of Alton, Illinois, who plays the show’s lead, Roxie Hart.
“Through the script and everything, I’ve found [Roxie] to be almost child-like in her impulsiveness,” Vredeveld said. “With anything she sees, she’s like ‘that’s what I want and I’m going to get it,’ and that’s something I admire but I also think is her downfall.”
Tickets can be purchased in the box office inside Dunham Hall room 1042b. It’s open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or by calling the box office at 618-650-2774. Tickets are free for students, and $12 for SIUE faculty, staff, senior citizens and non-SIUE students. Other adult tickets are $15. Wednesday through Saturday’s shows are at 7:30 p.m. and there is a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. Best Kinscherff recommends purchasing tickets quickly, as there is the possibility of selling out.
“It’s a fun show [but also] a monster show for our students to take on, and they’re doing well,” Best Kinscherff said. “They have been the utmost professional and I think we are going to give the audience a really professional-quality show.”