Flappers and murderesses have been practicing their song and dance in the basement of First Baptist Church.
The Comedia Musica Players will present "Chicago" Thursday through Saturday at Decker Auditorium. Since they can't practice on the stage, they've been using the church as a rehearsal hall where they learn the words to the popular Broadway musical.
One of the longest-running Broadway shows and, later, an award-winning film, "Chicago" is a tale of aspiring vaudeville celebrities in the Prohibition era. It's a satire - of sorts - of the media, legal system and the concept of the "celebrity criminal."
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Buzz Powers, left, and Nicole Brown practice their song, “They Both Reached for the Gun,” in the Comedia Musica Players upcoming production of “Chicago.”?In this song, Powers’s character, attorney Billy Flynn, is pulling all the strings as his client, Roxie Hart, justifies killing her lover.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Members of the cast of Comedia Musica’s upcoming production of “Chicago” practice the “All That Jazz”?number in the basement of First Baptist Church. The actual stage production will be Thursday through Saturday at the Decker Auditorium at Iowa Central Community College.
Nicole Brown plays one of the lead roles, Roxie Hart.
"It's about life in the '20s. From what I've learned, there was a string of jazz murderesses, so this musical kind of outlines what a couple of their lives might have been like," Brown said.
Alyssa Sparks, who plays other leading lady, Velma Kelly, said the show has a unique point of view.
If you go:
WHAT: The Comedia Musica Players 45th production, "Chicago"
WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 2 p.m., Saturday matinee
WHERE: Decker Auditorium, Iowa Central Community College
TICKETS: $12 adults, $8 students; available at Choice Printing, 1012 First Ave. N., and at the door.
Shuttle service from parking lots to auditorium.
CHICAGO CAST LIST
Master of Ceremonies - Richard Votta
Velma Kelly - Alyssa Sparks
Roxie Hart - Nicole Brown
Fred Casely - Adam Liker
Sergeant Fogarty - Terry Cook
Amos Hart - Nate Gibson
Liz - Amy Porter
Annie - Heidi Nelson
June - Kari Lund
Hunyak - Jennifer Hiracheta
Mona - Kim Shimkat
Matron - Laura Franks
Billy Flynn - Buzz Powers
Mary Sunshine - Sean O'Connor
Go-To-Hell Kitty - Amy Porter
Harry - Tanner Burkle
Aaron - Mark Babbit
The Judge - Doug Hill
Court Clerk - Sean Rongved
Kelly Jean Schnurr
"Roxie wants to be on the stage. She has always wanted that, but never had the opportunity," said Sparks.
"Roxie shoots her lover, and the whole show is kind of telling the story like in Roxie's head. She wants to be on stage, so the story's told like it's a show about Roxie, her murder trial."
As the St. Edmond High School choir director, Brown has directed a number of plays, but this is only her second time performing with Comedia Musica.
"I get to be behind the scenes a lot in my job at St. Ed's, as choir director," she said. "It's just nice to come to a rehearsal to perform, and get out on stage and show what I've got."
Brown enjoys the songs in this show, which have a pop feel.
"I've never done this style of singing before. Last year we did 'Into the Woods,' and that was a lot more traditional sounding. This is a lot more 'belty,' so that was fun for me to get to switch up the style a little bit," she said.
To keep the actors in step as the singers are belting, the Players rely on their experienced choreographer, Rachel Bell.
"I've been doing choreography, this is like my 150th show. Not necessarily with Comedia, but I've been with Comedia since I was in fourth grade," Bell said. "This show is my type of musical, because there's a lot of dance numbers, chorus numbers, big numbers, and that's what I like to do."
The challenge is to design a dance that will fit with the widely varied cast - whose ages range from 17 to 70, Bell said.
They've especially been working on the first song, "All that Jazz."
"We've probably worked on the opening song the most. It's the song that everyone is most familiar with, and it's a kind of dancing that most of the people are not familiar with," she said.
Director Debby Roe has been with Comedia for 25 years, but this is her second year as director. She said the group always has to practice in one place and perform in another, which means the actors have to adjust in the last few days.
"There are some differences," Roe said. "Size is one thing, getting used to being in a different area, because there's a platform they will be on is another. And getting things on and off the set will make a difference."
Sparks said the cast will start working on the real set this weekend.
"With a show like this the set is not really elaborate. This is one of the easier ones to adjust to," she said.
Though "Chicago" is a big Broadway name, it's not a particularly large show, Roe said.
"We've had bigger. We had over 50-some in a show before, and there's around 26 in this one."
Comedia is a community theater group that's done an annual musical for 45 years now.
"It gives community talent, people in the community, a chance to showcase their talent," Roe said. "It's a great way to make friends and have a lot of fun. And it's a great way to bring art and culture to Fort Dodge as well."