Chicago and Psycho Beach Party
Directors talk about two of the many shows opening this weekend
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
“All that Jazz”
Director Joe Vago said his Chicago cast is one of the best he’s worked with in 18 years. Leads in this Best Foot Forward Productions performance include many locally recognizable names. Cast members have experience with several companies in the area, including professional work with the Palace Theatre and Yellow Taxi Productions.
That professional work ethic and training has come in handy during rehearsals, as actors have come in well prepared, off book — and can dance, Vago said.
Best Foot Forward is a community company, though, and one of the challenges Vago faced was losing actors and crew along the way to work requirements, which could be a sign of economic times, he said.
Cabaret singers Roxie Hart (Ashley Hughes) and Velma Kelly (Kellie Haigh), charged with murdering their lovers in 1924 Chicago, vie to capitalize on their notoriety and for defense skills of attorney Billy Flynn (Stuart Harmon). Dance numbers have their own distinct styles, based on different performers of the era or the Vaudevillian stage, Vago said.
Tajoura Davis plays prison matron “Mama” Morton. Gary Evans, Allan Hunter, Michael McCarthy, Katie Proulx, Melissa Runde, Andrea Pickering, Amy Jaskolka, Sophie Carpenter, Meredythe Leonard, Karen Ostrowski, David Lemay, Jim Rogato, Christian Hodge, Rich Sparks and Chris Turcotte also perform.
Kellie Haigh choreographs. She also choreographs for the Palace, and was most recently seen in Sweet Charity. Frank Rene musically directs. Vago recommends catching this show because it’s hard to get the rights to it. Groups are frequently turned down, so who knows when it will be produced in this area again, he said. (Extra bonus: Central High’s 1,400-seat theater has some of the most comfortable theater seats around, he said.)
One of the great things about this musical is that every song is one people can leave the theater humming.
“Most of the time you’ll have a musical that has one or two great numbers. In this show almost every single song has that great quality to it,” Vago said.
Chicago, the 1975 musical from John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, runs Friday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m., at Central High School’s McAllaster Hall, 207 Lowell St., Manchester. Tickets cost $15, or $12 for students or seniors. Visit www.BestFootForwardProductions.org.
Gidget goes mental
Jessica Goodman and Lisa DeFazio direct Psycho Beach Party, for Ghostlight Theater Co. of New England. The community troupe offers three performances at the Capitol Center for the Arts, as part of its Spotlight Café series.
Chicklet is trying to learn to surf in 1960s Malibu, but she suffers different personalities when she sees the color red. Playwright Charles Busch originally titled it “Gidget Goes Psychotic,” but there were probably rights issues, Goodman said.
Victoria Hogan goes through at least five personalities as Chicklet during show, including a dominatrix, a radio personality, a checkout girl and a male model, Goodman said. One of her personalities is responsible for a rash of attacks on the beach where people are being shaved from head to toe, Goodman said.
One of the surfers who went to medical school decides to try hypnosis to discover what caused Chicklet’s multiple personalities during a big luau scene at the end. Marc Pelletier, Dylan Gamblin and Steven “Dingo” Ihde also perform.
A live band for the show call themselves the Asylums and provide a soundtrack featuring some of their own tunes and some classic ’60s and surf songs. They’ll also offer some pre-show entertainment, Goodman said.
Ghostlight will be using rear projection as part of the set, which is going to allow for some “pretty neat special effects,” including a unique flashback scene, Goodman said.
This is Ghostlight’s first time at Spotlight Café, which according to the Capitol Center is “A place to discover fresh, exciting work in a hip, scintillating, club-style atmosphere.” The Café is held in the function hall, with a cash bar and concessions available.
Psycho Beach Party contains adult language and content (leave the kids at home). See it Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7 or 10 p.m., or Sunday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m., in the Spotlight Café at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St., Concord (www.ccanh.com, 225-1111, www.gltne.org). Tickets cost $20.