Palace to preview ‘Chicago’ before show hits the road

For theater fans who haven’t seen “Chicago” yet or for those eager to see a fresh look at a classic
PHOTOGRAPHER:

For theater fans who haven’t seen “Chicago” yet or for those eager to see a fresh look at a classic Broadway musical, Albany’s Palace Theatre will be the place to be tonight at 7:30.

Troika Entertainment, which has been taking musical theater on the road throughout the country and internationally for more than 20 years now, has been working on its new production since last Saturday at the Palace. The Capital Region will get a preview of this “Chicago” before Troika takes it out on the road for a national tour beginning Saturday in Binghamton.

This production began rehearsals in New York City on Dec. 10, and stars Melanie Waldron as Velma Kelley, Lindsay Roginski as Roxie Hart and Brent Heuser as Billy Flynn. All three actors are making their first appearance in a national touring production of “Chicago,” and, according to stage manager Michael Morales, the trio are well-equipped to handle their roles.

“We’re talking about three very talented actors here that are going to do a great job,” said Morales, who recently finished a 10-month gig as stage manager for a touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” “They’ve picked up the choreography very fast, and we’ve just been fine-tuning things since. They’re really absorbing things as fast as they can. They’re a very talented bunch.”

Just like opening night

Morales, who grew up in Florida and got his BFA in theatrical stage management from the University of Central Florida, said those witnessing tonight’s preview will hopefully see a show worthy of the tour’s opening night in Binghamton.

“We have two dress rehearsals before the preview. So by then, we’ll have all the kinks worked out,” he said. “We treat this preview as if it was an opening night. We won’t stop the show to change something or do it over. We won’t stop the show unless something catastrophic happens. It’s just like a normal show. Something really crazy would have to happen.”

With a 15-minute intermission, “Chicago” runs about two hours and 30 minutes.

The show is based on Maurine Dallas Watkins’ play from 1926, and was created by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who also wrote “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Cabaret.” “Chicago” opened on Broadway in June 1975 and ran for 898 performances, while it’s 1996 revival has been even more successful and is still running in New York. The original garnered six Tony nominations without a win, while the 1996 edition collected six Tonys, including Best Revival.

In 2002, Miramax Films brought the musical to the screen with Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere. The film won six Oscars, including Best Film.

“The style of the show makes it timeless, and I think that’s one of the reasons it’s been so successful for so long,” said Morales. “Yes, the script says it takes place in a certain time period, but the themes are timeless and it appeals to all of us on so many levels. It’s about corruption and murder, and it’s a reflection of our society when it comes to our court system. Things haven’t changed that much from the 1930s.”

Middle of everything

Morales says his stage managing career began in the third grade, and, while he wanted to be an actor, he realized he was better suited to work behind the scenes.

“One day I said to myself, ‘I’m not good enough to be on stage with these people,’ ” said Morales. “I wasn’t good enough to make a living at it and be successful. So I found my niche in stage managing and I love it. It’s such a collaboration between the acting and technical process. I’m right in the middle of everything. In my position, you get the full theater experience.”

While previews and opening nights have their share of anxiety, Morales said the real hard work is put in during rehearsals.

“During rehearsal is when all the unexpected things come up that you have to deal with,” said Morales. “That’s when you’re learning things and changing the show. When the learning process is over and you’re actually into the performances, it’s just a matter of maintaining things. I have to know all the cues, and, while opening night can be pretty hectic, if you’re prepared you can relax and just do your job.”

‘Chicago’

WHERE: The Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany

WHEN: 7:30 tonight

HOW MUCH: $45-$25

MORE INFO: 465-3334

Categories: Life and Arts

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