Get ready for some jazz hands as ‘Chicago’ dances into the Schuster

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Getting away with murder fuels John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s scintillatingly satirical 1975 musical “Chicago,” slated Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Star Attractions.

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Winner of six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and currently the No. 1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history, “Chicago” tells the darkly comical story of two murderesses taking the Windy City by storm in the late 1920s. As rivals Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly compete for the attention of slick lawyer Billy Flynn, they come to terms with the high price of celebrity within the lens of the criminal justice system, while ultimately realizing the benefits of sisterhood.

Terra C. MacLeod (Velma Kelly) stars in the latest national tour of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s blockbuster musical “Chicago” Feb. 1 and 2 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Terra C. MacLeod (Velma Kelly) stars in the latest national tour of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s blockbuster musical “Chicago” Feb. 1 and 2 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED

“Although separate for most of the show rejecting each other left and right, Roxie and Velma actually do need each other,” said Dylis Croman, who portrays Roxie and also appeared on Broadway in “Fosse” and “Sweet Charity.” “For me, it’s a great lesson in humanity. Roxie and Velma, who are very similar and share a common dream of wanting to be a vaudeville star, understand they can’t go it alone. They have to open their hearts and let people in. And in the end, they come together and finally become the sister act Velma presented to Roxie in the middle of the show.”

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“The themes in the show are so relevant,” added Terra C. MacLeod, who portrays Velma and notably originated the role in the world French premiere in Montreal and Paris. “Due to the political climate of our country, audiences, without even knowing it, are witnessing a commentary on what we are dealing with today from issues of immigration to corruption in the judicial system. We don’t necessarily have (scandalous) news on the front page of our newspapers anymore, but we are still (concerned) about how many followers we have on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or how many likes people receive on a viral YouTube video. Even if a particular news item is awful, it can become popular. ‘Chicago’ sensationalizes murderesses, and even though some may feel it’s an older show, we’re still unfortunately celebrating what is dark in our country.”

Dylis Croman (Roxie Hart) stars in the latest national tour of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s blockbuster musical “Chicago” Feb. 1 and 2 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Dylis Croman (Roxie Hart) stars in the latest national tour of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s blockbuster musical “Chicago” Feb. 1 and 2 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED

The great Bob Fosse’s signature, slinky, sexy, seductive, and mesmerizing choreography, a storytelling jazz dance extravaganza brilliantly recreated by Ann Reinking, heightens such phenomenal Kander and Ebb gems as “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby.” Croman and MacLeod say they’ve routinely finessed his meticulous technique as instructor and student respectively through the years.

“When I’m not playing Roxie, I teach younger kids the Fosse style,” Croman said. “If I’m teaching them a shoulder roll or the Fosse walk, I tell them it’s not just steps. The Fosse style only works and has that magic glimmer to it if you’re bringing your own spirit through the music. I always ground myself if I have roots on the bottom of my feet onto the stage. And a lot of his movement is mystical and witty as if the performer has a secret the audience isn’t in on. There is truly an underlying story in his movement and that story is told best if the person dancing it is bringing themselves to the movement.”

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“Whenever there is a Fosse master class offered in New York, I’m in that class continuously refining, revisiting and exploring his vocabulary of dance,” echoed MacLeod, who has been associated with “Chicago” for 16 years. “There are parts of his style that look so simple yet they’re the hardest elements to grasp. Even in the simplicity there has to be excitement. Every moment has a purpose or intention. Nothing is by mistake. Even in the casualness of a number like ‘All That Jazz,’ you have to perform it as if there is a laser beam piercing the back of the theater through your eyes. For me, the learning of his work never stops and I’m constantly enamored by and in awe of those that, to me, have perfected his style. Fosse’s movement is a language unto itself. It’s learning another language.”

IF YOU GO

What: "Chicago"

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $26-$94

Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com