Sunday, July 28, 2013

CHICAGO DAZZLES by Pamela Powell

The Acting Out Theatre Company produced CHICAGO, its third outdoor musical in as many years, this weekend, July 26, 27, and 28.  Each year, the productions have become more elaborate, increasing the complexity and enjoyment for all the patrons.  CHICAGO, set in the streets of Momence, Illinois which probably haven't changed much since the roaring 20's, razzled and dazzled the audience even before the show began.  Walking down the blocked off street was like walking back in time.  The store front windows were transformed to the magical era of the 20's complete with period furniture, haberdashery, and fine clothing.  Ahhh, the romance of the bygone era.  Lining the sidewalks were food and drinks reminiscent of that same time period.  One could enjoy a Side Car or an Old Fashioned before taking your seat in the sold out show.  Patrons brought folding chairs which filled the entire block from curb to curb.  Children, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas took their seats while others stood in the back just to be a part of this production.

The music rang out along the street as the sun began to set.  As dark lined clouds rolled in to set the ominous mood it was as if they knew "murder and mayhem" were about to take place in this otherwise quiet, sleepy little town of Momence.  Everyone was bundled in fleece jackets and cuddled together under blankets trying to stay warm on this unusually cold July evening.  The cold quickly left you as you were mesmerized by the clear, crisp, lyrical song opening the show.  As the sun sank further into the night sky, the corruption equalled the darkness falling as Mama belted out her number.  Strong,
melodic voices filled the night air while complex dance numbers with girls being lifted and twirled punctuated the night sky's background.  Utilizing every portion of this elaborate and beautiful set design, while the orchestra played on the second level, the actors could be seen with the orchestra, on the main floor stage as well as sliding down the poles located on each end.  The striking costumes complete with sequence and dazzling glitter caught the spot light and multiple colored lights to captivate and transport us all to the Chicago of days gone by.  Visually, there was never a dull moment.

CHICAGO's music about murder and acquittal is exceptionally upbeat and fun; contrary to what one would think given the topic!  Acting Out Theatre's lead roles of Velma Kelly played by the stunningly gorgeous Angela Chinn and Roxie Hart played by  the striking and talented Kendra DeMarah exhibited a calibre of performance equivalent to a musical performance in our nearby city of Chicago.  Both Kendra and Angela hit each and every note with the perfection of a seasoned veteran.  Not missing a beat, acting and dancing along with their powerful singing, the two portrayed perfectly their characters' sweet, egotistical, and murderous souls.  Amos Hart, played by none other than the infamous Pat Skelly, couldn't have been cast any better.  His sweet, trusting personality and kind heart was pleasantly painted upon his character.  Amos' sadness poured out onto the stage for all as it elicited sympathy.  Then we had Billy Flynn played by Kyle Cassady who seized you auditorily and pulled you along his character's self-absorbed, womanizing journey.  The entire cast embodied such deft abilities as the audience was captured by song, dance, music, and story.

This level of success isn't accomplished alone.  It takes a skilled director to have a vision of completion and to communicate with the cast.  Director
Sharon Richardson's innate knowledge and love of theater enabled her to do just what needed to be done.  But there's also the need for organization, time, talent, and generosity which all play a part in the success of a musical.  From stage hands, choreographers, musical directors, musicians, set designers, seamstresses, and make up artists, and many more,  all must be coordinated to be successful.  CHICAGO was nothing short of successful.    This small community with a big heart and heaps of talent,  entertained hundreds of people to this uniquely set musical.  I'm proud to be a part of such an inspirational and supportive community that dares to reach beyond the norm and bring quality productions to all of us.

Next year, the theater group will entertain us with LES MISERABLES.  For more information, go to  Also, don't forget that A NIGHT IN SLEEPY HOLLOW will be October 11,12, 18, and 19 at the Perry Farm and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE a radio play will be live at the Majestic Theater on December 13, 14, and 15th this year.

For photos of the production, go to:
Photos of CHICAGO

For photos of pre-production, go to:
Behind the Scenes of CHICAGO

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