Fosse Favorite, Chicago, to Take Mainstage at IWU
February 15, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan's School of Theatre Arts will present murder,
passion, fame and all that jazz in Chicago, one of the most recognizable musicals of the 20th century. The production, which
the School of Theatre Arts promises will feature a “mixture of popular appeal and
artistry,” will be held Feb. 22-26 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 26-27 at 2 p.m. in the McPherson
Theatre (2 Ames Plaza East, Bloomington).
General admission tickets are $6 for the performances on February 22, 23, and 27 and
$8 for the performances on February 24, 25, and 26. Student tickets are $1 with a
valid student I.D. for any performance.
Directed by Illinois Wesleyan Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Tom Ossowski and
featuring book and music by songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb, the show starts
with a bang — literally. Following the frivolous atmosphere of Chicago in 1929, a
seductive club singer, Velma Kelly and fame-hungry Roxie Hart are caught up in a life
of “gin and guns,” landing them in the Cook County Jail for murder. Competing both
for the attention of their suave lawyer, Billy Flynn and for tabloid headlines, they
dance and sing their way through a timeless satire on media and America's judicial
Although this show may seem purely fictional, the Tony Award-winning musical is based
on true murder cases which took place in Chicago in 1924.
In the time of Prohibition, two women, a laundry worker and a sultry cabaret singer
killed their lovers under the influence of jazz and liquor. The murderesses, Belva
Gaertner and Beulah Annan were adored by the public following the Chicago Tribune reporter, Maurine Dallas Watkins' coverage of their trials. Describing the women as
the most stylish and beautiful women on Murderess Row, she transformed the felons
into tabloid darlings, turning murder into “Chicago's favorite form of entertainment.”
After Annan and Gaertner were acquitted of their murders, Watkins felt dismayed by
her role in feeding the public's appetite for tabloid gossip and left journalism for
the Yale School of Drama. In one of her classes, she wrote a play called, The Brave Little Woman, an account of the Chicago trials, in which she kept her own role as Mary Sunshine,
a nosey, disillusioned reporter quiet.
Watkins' play, which was soon renamed Chicago, ran for a respectable 172 performances in 1926. The sensational play was adapted
into a silent movie in 1927 and later turned into the movie, Roxie Hart starring Ginger
Rogers in 1942 before catching the attention of choreographer Bob Fosse in the 1950s.
Fosse acquired the rights to the play after Watkins passed away in 1969 and he joined
forces with Ebb and Kander to turn Chicago into a musical in 1975.
The Broadway revival performance of Chicago in 1996 won six Tony Awards. Since then, it has been transformed into an Academy
Award-winning film featuring a cast of renowned Hollywood actors.
Cast Members: Lisa Karlin (Velma Kelly), Elizabeth Holt (Roxie Hart), Bryonha Marie (Matron Mama
Morton), Don Denton (Billy Flynn), Brian DeCaluwe (Amos Hart), John Taflan (Mary Sunshine),
Tim Dunn (Fred Casley, Aaron, Harry), Zachary Zube (Jury Man, Ensemble), Vaughn M.
Irving (Martin Harrison, Ensemble), Michael Black (Sergeant Fogarty, Ensemble), Bradley
Smoak (Judge, Ensemble), Ryan Naimy (Court Clerk, Ensemble), Jonathon Cable (Ensemble),
Janie Wallace (Liz, Ensemble), MelissaMarie Wilhelm (Annie, Ensemble), Torri J. Newman
(June, Ensemble), Krystle Balhan (Hunyak, Ensemble), Elizabeth Hope Williams (Mona,
Ensemble), Julia Vanderveen (Kitty, Ensemble).
Production Team: Tom Ossowski (Director), Jean Kerr (Choreographer), Kate Anderson (Stage Manager),
Sarah Gorsky (Assistant Stage Manager), Justin Banta (Assistant Stage Manager), Marcia
McDonald (Costume Designer), Kelley Britt Shaw (Associate Costume Designer), Taylar
Kuzniar (Assistant Costume Design), Earl Kim (Second Assistant Costume Design), Brad
Cain (Wardrobe Head), Sarah Ziebart (Hair and Makeup Design), Josh Epstein (Lighting
Designer), Noreen Snyder (Assistant Lighting Designer), Lindsay Vrab (Master Electrician),
Curtis Trout (Scenic Designer), Jesse Garrney (Technical Director), Armie Thompson
(Assistant Technical Director), Mollie Slattery (Master Carpenter), Warwick Johnson
(Properties), Emi Mastey (Properties), Megan Henderson (Chart Artist), Sarah Bordson
(Scenic Painter), Kristen Meyer (Scenic Painter), Justin Murphy (Sound Designer),
Cy Watson (House Manager), Ryan Foster (Assistant House Manager).
For additional information or to order tickets, call the McPherson Theatre Box Office
at (309) 556-3232. The Box Office is open from 12:30-5:00 p.m. Monday, Thursday, and
Friday; Tuesday from 12:30-2:30 p.m.; and Wednesday from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Contact: Taylar Kuzniar (309) 556-3181