Roxie and Velma on their way to Cobb Energy Centre
by Davia L. Mosley
dmosley@mdjonline.com
September 18, 2012 12:23 AM | 2462 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘The Merry Murderesses of Chicago’ perform in a stage production.<br>Special/Paul Kolnik
‘The Merry Murderesses of Chicago’ perform in a stage production.
Special/Paul Kolnik
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Ladies, prison and all that jazz: The Gas South Broadway Series will begin its season with “Chicago” from Oct. 4 to 7 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. “Chicago” is set in the 1920s and tells the story of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart — mixed with classic songs and the timeless choreography of the late Bob Fosse.

“Chicago” debuted on Broadway in 1975 and is the fourth longest-running show on the Great White Way. The musical’s 1996 run also holds the record for Broadway’s longest-running revival.

Terra MacLeod has portrayed Velma on and off on Broadway and in Montreal and Paris since 2003. The New York resident has had vocal and dance training and studied musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. MacLeod said Velma is a complex and misunderstood character.

“She is definitely driven and has stamina and never gives up. There’s a lot of heart to Velma,” MacLeod said. “The hard exterior that people are familiar with, I think, is a protective barrier. I think it’s a misconception when people see a character that is a little bit tougher or edgier. If you strip back a few layers, eventually the heart reveals itself.”

Tracy Shane performed as Roxie for the first time in 2000 at the Kennedy Center and has continued on Broadway. She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but grew up in Houston, Texas. She took piano, ballet and singing lessons and attended the University of Houston to study acting. She has had roles in “Chorus Line,” “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

Although she took a five-year break from playing Roxie, Shane said the role and the show is an absolute joy from beginning to end. She describes “Chicago” as exciting, sexy, dark and fun.

“There’s nothing like playing a killer who is as sweet as can be,” she adds.

Just as the music defines “Chicago,” so does the dancing. MacLeod describes Fosse’s style as athletic, beautiful and subtle with the ability to tell a story.

“I feel lucky that I get to do a little bit of both — I get to have the subtlely and dance on a larger scale,” she said.

Shane said, “Fosse’s style is well-suited for my body type. I have a (classically trained) ballet background. His moves are very precise.”

Shane has studied with some of the late choreographer’s proteges, including Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking, and performed in “Fosse.” She said, “I’m a Fosse girl. There’s really isn’t anything like it.”

“All That Jazz” is MacLeod’s favorite number while Shane said the last number with Roxie and Velma tops her list.

“It’s signature Fosse to a T,” Shane said.

In 2002, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rene Zellweger starred as Velma and Roxie, respectively, in the 2002 Oscar-winning film. MacLeod said the film revived the stage production and introduced “Chicago” to a new generation of audience members.

“It became a sensation around the world,” she said. “I don’t think (stage productions) would have had that kind of success had that movie not been made.”

Although she is a fan of the film, MacLeod said the stage production lends more to the imagination.

“People want to come to experience the movie, but this is a very simple show that offer complexities at the same time,” she said.

Shane said, “People want to see ‘Chicago,’ but the execution is very different. The movie is very colorful. Here, it’s a black box kind of setting. It’s all very representational. The scenes flow. It’s real Vaudeville. It’s very different, and yet it’s very much the same.”

Amid guns, judges and jail sentences, both performers say the show is not one to be missed. MacLeod said, “There are a lot of Broadway veterans in the company. There’s nothing like live theater.”

“We will not disappoint,” Shane said.

Show times are Oct. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 6 and 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $19. For more information, call (770) 316-2800 or visit www.cobbenergycentre.com.
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