Chicago Comes To Columbus
by Debbie Gillum
One of Columbus’ secret summer gems is the annual production of the Columbus Children’s Theatre’s Pre-Professional Company, in which high-school and college students put on a play or musical definitely not aimed at children. This year’s musical is the Broadway hit,Chicago.
Columbus Children’s Theatre normally produces theatre for young audiences. However, every July CCT produces a show geared toward older audiences that is performed by the CCT Pre-Professional Company. This company is comprised of high school and college students through the age of 22. The majority of these young actors plan on pursuing a career in the theatre arts and usually musical theatre in particular. Many members of CCT’s Pre- Professional Company have gone on to lead successful full-time acting careers and perform on Broadway and television. For example, Josh Radnor performed in CCT’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar (Pontius Pilate) and went on to star as Ted Mosby in the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother. Other CCT Alumni such as David Ayers, Michael Milligan, Steve Boyer, Samantha Eggers, Stan Bahorek, and Lindsay Chambers have gone onto Broadway. This summer show gives young adults a chance to perform in a show that is often more difficult and challenging than what they are offered through other venues. Also, this gives CCT the opportunity to provide actors and actresses challenging work in a professional environment. In past years, CCT Pre-Professional Company has performed The Producers, Rent, Sweeney Todd and Into The Woods. Critics have routinely praised CCT’s summer performances. In his review for Theatre Roundtable of last year’s show, The Producers, Dennis Thompson wrote, “The entire cast shines, both in comic moments and in musical skill.” Many of CCT’s summer performances sell out, so make sure to get your tickets to see Chicago before its too late.
Unlike other musicals, Chicago was inspired by true events. “If you’d been there, if you’d seen it. I betchya you would have done the same!” So declares the chorus to “Cell Block Tango” that the merry murderesses of Chicago affirm to an engaged audience. But the lyrics that the women sing are not far from the truth behind the real story ofChicago. Both the characters of Roxie and Velma are based on two actual murderers: Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. The real scenes took place in 1924 in the city of Chicago when Beulah Annan (Roxie) was accused of killing the “intruder” Harry Kalstedt while Belva Gaertner (Velma) was charged with murdering her husband. Both murders become front-page stories in the Chicago Tribune when reporter Maurine Watkins realized the sensational appeal the two personalities could draw through her tongue-in-cheek reports. The supposed pregnancy used to speed up the trial, the sleek lawyer who helped define the media frenzy and the acquittal of both ladies sounded like a page out of Hollywood, when in fact they were actually real life. In 1969, Bob Fosse along with composer and lyricist John Kander and Fred Ebb began work on the musical adaptation of the play. The original Broadway production opened June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances. Thirty-six years later, Chicago is still going strong and continues to wow audiences of all ages.
Columbus Children’s Theatre’s production of Chicago will be directed by William Goldsmith and star Melissa Hall as Roxie Hart, Regan Goins as Velma Kelly, Ezra Todd Baker as Billy Flynn, and Jenna Lee Shively as Matron Mama Morton.
The CCT Pre-Professional Company will present its production of Chicago July 7-24. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances take place at 7:30p and Sunday performances are at 3p at the Park Street Theatre, 512 N. Park St. This show is recommended for everyone ages 13 and older. Tickers are $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. For more information or to buy tickets call the box office at 614.224.6672 or visit www.ColsChildrensTheatre.org.
Debbie Gillum is Marketing Intern for Columbus Children’s Theater a member organization of the Columbus Arts Marketing Association. For more information, visit www.camaonline.org. Read weekly columns by CAMA members online at outlookcolumbus.com.