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This star gave 'Chicago's' Croman 'the spark' to perform

This star gave 'Chicago's' Croman 'the spark' to perform

'There was this guy, singing and dancing on stage, and I loved it'
This star gave 'Chicago's' Croman 'the spark' to perform
Dylis Croman as Roxie Hart in "Chicago."
Photographer: Jeremy Daniel

When Dylis Croman left Dallas, Texas a few weeks after graduating from high school and headed to New York, she already had her dream gig.

"I knew at a real early age, 3, that I wanted to dance," said Croman, who was hired by the Feld Ballet Company when she was 17. "I would go see this touring ballet company when they came through Dallas so I was always dreaming of getting a job with the company. My mother let me audition with them in New York City during my senior year in high school and they hired me the day after I graduated."

Croman is still dancing, and she's also one of the theater world's great triple threats, having also honed her singing and acting skills. She gets to show off all of those talents as Roxie Hart in the national touring production of "Chicago," coming to Proctors for four shows Friday through Sunday.

"I went to an arts high school in Dallas so I was also dabbling in singing and acting," she said, "and in high school I had been involved in musical theater. I could carry a tune pretty easily but I still had to learn how to technically do it, and as soon as I got to New York I started taking voice and acting lessons. I immersed myself into classes, because if you really want to be a triple threat that's what you have to do."

Croman grew up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on television, and remembers being swept away by Ben Vereen when a national tour of "Pippin" came to Dallas.

"There are so many great performers, but I saw Ben Vereen on stage in my hometown when I was a kid and he was amazing," said Croman. "He was like magic on stage. He really inspired me. There was this guy, singing and dancing on stage, and I loved it. He really gave me that spark."

In "Chicago," the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse musical set in 1926 Prohibition-era Chicago, the actress playing Roxie gets plenty of opportunity to strut her stuff. And playing Roxie isn't something new for Croman, who was an understudy in the role on Broadway in 2015 and 2016. She's also performed on Broadway in "Fosse" and "Thou Shall Not" in 2001, "Oklahoma!" in 2002 and "Sweet Charity" in 2005. Her national tour credits include "A Chorus Line" and "In Your Arms."

"I've been involved with 'Chicago' for 10 years now," said Croman, who pronounces her first name, 'die-lease.' "I started off in the ensemble, then I was a replacement for Roxie when people took absences, and then they hired me full-time as Roxie. I know it's the most boring answer to say 'the show I'm in,' when people ask you what your favorite musical is, but I really do love 'Chicago,' and when I'm playing Roxie I am quite literally living my dream. It never gets tiring."

"Chicago" is one of the most successful musicals of all time. The 1976 original didn't win a Tony but it was nominated in 11 categories. The 1996 revival, meanwhile, was nominated for eight Tonys and won six of them, including Best Revival of a Musical. It is the second longest-running Broadway musical in history behind "The Phantom of the Opera."

"It's brilliantly written and put together so well," said Croman. "The dancing; I loved the Bob Fosse-style, and the music is great. I've talked to other actors about it, and we've all agreed. You can be waiting in the wings to go on, and you hear that music and you still love it. It never gets old."


WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $85-$20
MORE INFO: 518-346-6204, www.proctors.org

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