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Author: Adam Goldstein

CU Boulder Production of “Chicago” is a Fresh Take on an Iconic Work

There’s a certain excitement to producing a bona fide theatrical blockbuster.

The 1975 musical “Chicago” certainly claims those bragging rights. With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Broadway legend Bob Fosse, the production has achieved a rare status as one of the longest running musicals on Broadway and in London. It spurred a popular film adaptation and features a score, a story and choreography that are undisputed musical theatre standards.

That global allure is part of what made “Chicago” an obvious choice to present as part of the University of Colorado Boulder Musical Theatre Program’s current season. The show, which runs in the Imig Music Building’s Music Theatre April 27 to 30, gives students the chance to sink their teeth into a proven theatrical standard. It’s one that many know from high school productions and one that many are bound to see again in careers as professional performers.

“It’s a classic show, soon to be one of the longest running shows on Broadway,” says Matthew Chellis, Director of the Musical Theatre Program at CU’s College of Music. Chellis added that with eight principal roles and an ensemble of 13 to 14, the musical offered the opportunity for double-casting, which offered more students the chance to explore this iconic show. “We have a mission to make sure our student cohort has as many opportunities to perform as possible.”

The Musical Theatre Program strives to connect its students with a wide range of programming, from less known works that they may have never seen to iconic titles like “Chicago.” It’s an approach that benefits students, faculty and audience members alike. In this case, theatergoers will have the chance to see a professional production in a setting that’s intimate and immediate. The Music Theatre in the Imig building has about 240 seats, a venue size that complements the show’s sometimes stark dynamic.

“It’s actually a small show, especially in its newer iteration. It’s been pared down, which emphasizes the story-driven nature of the piece,” Chellis says, adding that the upcoming production will highlight original elements of the show, including choreography designed by Bob Fosse. “We’re doing a little bit of movie and a little bit of Broadway. We’re going to have the pit band on stage and an innovative, multi-level set.”

All of these touches, along with direction by Justin Johnson, choreography by Tracy Doty and musical direction from Collin Sinclair, are bound to offer audience members a new perspective on this well-known staple from the American musical theatrical canon.

“Chicago” opens Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Imig Music Building’s Music Theatre. Tickets are limited.