Arts, Dining & Entertainment, Events & Activities

Norwich University’s theater club presents ‘Chicago the Musical’

Mar. 17-19 — NORTHFIELD — Pegasus Players, Norwich University’s theater club, will present “Chicago” at 7:30 p.m. Mar. 17, 18 and 19 in Mack Hall auditorium.

Courtesy Norwich University

This performance is free and open to the public.

In roaring 1920s Chicago, chorine Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap until he finds out he’s been duped and turns on Roxie. Convicted and sent to Death Row, Roxie and another merry murderess, Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the “American Dream”: of fame, fortune, and acquittal.

“Chicago,” featuring music by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb, debuted on Broadway June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. The production, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, ran for 936 performances.

On Nov 14, 1996, a revival of the show opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, featuring Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking in the opening cast. The show later transferred to Shubert Theatre, and then to the Ambassador Theatre, where, more than two decades later, it continues to run, logging nearly 10,000 performances.

Assistant professor of theater Jeffry Casey, the Pegasus Players’ adviser, said this is the largest play the Pegasus Players has produced in his five years at Norwich, with more than 40 people involved, including actors, designers, musicians, technical crews and stagehands.

Kenny Grenier, in his first year working with the Pegasus Players, is musical director. Choreographer and assistant director Carli Roberts graduated from Norwich last year.

“’Chicago’ is a real challenge,” Casey said. “It’s relentless music and dancing for two hours. It demands a lot from the actors, who must act, sing, and dance at the same time. Musicals are athletic enterprises.

“’Chicago’ is, to quote one of my favorite movies, a ‘cookie full of arsenic.’ It’s tawdry fun but acerbic, bitter. There’s only one character who I really sympathize with. The rest, including all of the leads, are pretty lousy people. But the play is a burlesque in the original sense of the word: over the top, absurd, and exaggerated. Actors can wink to the audience and make sure we are all in on the joke.”

Mack Hall Auditorium, completed in 2018, is a 400-seat performing arts center and home to the Pegasus Players, Norwich University’s oldest continuously operating student organization. The troupe typically produces two performances a year, which rotate between musicals, comedies and serious dramas and classics.

The Pegasus Players also produce student play festivals featuring original works written and directed by students and Norwich Voices for International Women’s Day, a spoken-word event about women’s issues on campus and around the world.

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