Tough women in a rough and tumble Chi-town

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly are the women front and center in the story of a rough-and-tumble Windy City in the 1920s.

“Chicago,” the musical from Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse with music from John Kander and lyrics from Ebb, tells the tale of how Roxie finds celebrity status as a murderer. And in the process, she finds herself competing with Velma, who had been the celebrated criminal of the moment prior to Roxie’s arrival.

GetUp Stage Company, a local teen theater company that draws young performers from throughout the area including Southington and Bristol and is directed by Bristol Central High School theater teacher Lindsey DiPietro, will be staging the show from Aug. 11 to 13 at Trinity-on-Main in New Britain.

“I like Roxie because she’s very independent,” said Shannon Sullivan of Southington, who plays Roxie’s rival Velma. “She’s very independent, even when people try to help her, even if it is the best thing for her, she still sticks to her guns.”

“I like Velma,” added Shannon. “I love her personality. I love her sass. I love how she’s very witty. Whenever someone says something, she has something to say back to it. She’s very educated, even if it seems she’s being snarky.”

“I like how similar they are to each other,” said Kevin Michaud of Bristol, who plays Roxie’s hapless husband Amos. “Velma is on the down slide of her career and Roxie is just starting. You can see where Velma was and where Roxie is headed… That’s really interesting. You see how they mirror each other.”

“‘Chicago’ shows that these girls don’t have that much freedom at this time,” said Southington’s Michael Ricciardone, who plays the shyster lawyer Billy Flynn. “Roxie’s makes her way through. She doesn’t make it through smoothly but she changes how you see female performers.”

“These female characters in this show obviously are not the classic role models,” said Devin Orde of New Britain, who plays Matron “Mama” Morton. “Playing Mama has given me confidence I never had in a role before.”

Asked what liked about the story of “Chicago,” Shannon said, “It’s very edgy and daring… If you think about it, if this actualy happened in this time period, it would be really revolutionary because all these women, are taking charge. Women’s rights is in progress… so in a way it’s a pretty cool story.”

“It’s different from other musicals,” said Kevin. “It makes fun of the trial part of it. It makes an interesting stab at how murder is a game to those people… Most of the time we don’t see murder as a game but to a person like Roxie Hart, it really just is.

“I like how sexy it is without even trying,” said Devin. “It’s that classic murder tale. It’s really interesting to observe these people’s view of murder.”

Michael said, “I like the relevance (of the story). There’s a song called, ‘Class.’ Although it took place in the ‘20s, it really relevant to today’s society and how things are still messed up politically, economically and socially.”

The GetUp Stage Company production of the musical “Chicago” will be held Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 11 to 13 at 8 p.m. at Trinity-on-Main, 69 Main St., New Britain. Tickets are $15. For more information, go to TrinityonMain.org or GetUpStageCompany.com