Monday, May 2

Actors Theatre of Indiana: Chicago the Musical

Actors Theatre of Indiana has opened Chicago the Musical, in its new home at The Studio Theater, The Center for the Performing Arts, Carmel.
The 1997 Tony Award-winning production, which runs through May 22, is always popular and well suited to a large or small stage. Directed by Judy Fitzgerald, this version has the musical quartet to the side of the stage but still involved with the show.

Readers of Gotta Go will be pleased to find familiar names in this show, including Beef And Boards regulars, such as Destination Actor J. Vessels (Smoke on the Mountain) portraying Mary Sunshine, Paul Hansen (Spelling Bee) as Amos Hart, Kenny Shepard (Wizard of Oz), and Sally Scharbrough (Hairspray).

Paul Hansen as Amos Hart
Holly Stults portrays murderess Velma Kelly with a solid vocal and dance performance, while Cynthia Collins turns in an equally solid Roxie Hart. Kelly and Hart want to be stars in the worst way possible, and are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. When their crimes land them in prison, they opt for Razzle Dazzle lawyer, Billy Flynn, portrayed by Bradley Reynolds.

The entire cast blends well and there is obvious enjoyment by all as they work All That Jazz. Stepping into this week's Gotta Go spotlight is Paul Hansen as Amos Hart, Roxie's pathetically optimistic husband. Hansen's Mr. Cellophane is the perfect combination of dejection and acceptance at his lot in life. Throughout the show his character sublimely continues to hope that Roxie isn't the conniving self-absorbed wrench she actually is and is still his blushing bride.

The spotlight also shines brightly on Reynolds, Collins, Vessels and company in the delightfully twisted We Both Reached for the Gun. Admitting he is the puppet master, Flynn explains to Roxie how she needs to simply say whatever he tells her and the newspaper reporters will mimic the sentiments. The acknowledgment of his powers of influence are demonstrated perfectly in this favorite song and dance number.

A special note regarding Scharbrough who plays Murderess Annie. I have followed her career over the past four years and believe she has now evolved from the innocent characters and is ready to handle a vixen or tough role, perhaps even Chicago's Velma Kelly. It's wonderful to see her develop her abilities and look forward to seeing her handle stronger roles in the future.

Bottom Line: ATI's Chicago blends strong choreography, vocals and seasoned performers for the first show in its new home.

Photos: Julie Curry Photography

 Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, music, restaurant and performing arts critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @ejmusgrave1 and Facebook or email her at elizabeth@gottago.us.
Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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