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Top Billing goes behind the razzle dazzle of Chicago
All that Jazz on Top Billing
It is the longest-running musical revival in Broadway history and this production of international smash hit Chicago, with an all South African cast, is on a year long, international tour.
According to Resident Director, Philip Godawa, this production has kept things simple in terms of costume and wardrobe, meaning the incredible cast carries the show with their performances of the iconic songs and dances.
The show is based on a play written by a Chicago journalist in the mid-twenties, and the dance sequences were originally designed by Oscar winning choreographer Bob Fosse. It’s up to Resident Choreographer Darren Greeff to keep the dancing at that level for this production, which is no small undertaking.
The New York production team came in to help with the audition process, and a group of 100 girls was whittled down to 20 in the first few minutes as a result of the very specific dance style and look the show requires. Following an intense 6 week dance training program the cast had nailed the charismatic Fosse style.
In the two leading roles Samantha Peo and Carmen Pretorius play femme fatales Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, two women from the nineteen twenties who stood trial for dispatching their lovers.
The actresses have known each other for a long time, and their wonderful chemistry makes for an electric partnership on stage.
They are supported by a talented local cast comprising of performers like Craig Urbani, who plays the very suave but somewhat immoral lawyer Billy Flynn. According to Urbani, it’s the show’s ability to make unsavoury characters so charming that has made it a popular production with all audiences.
Another iconic role is that of Mama Morton, played Ilse Klink, who like the others performs the well-known songs with the backing of a live, eleven piece orchestra.
As for the sensational setting of the storyline, the 1920s back drop was perfect for sourcing incredible flapper era hairdos and gorgeous costumes.
Head of the wig department, Elzarie Botha, and her team arrive 3 hours before the performance to ensure that the wigs, made of human hair, are styled and cleaned perfectly before they head on stage.
As for the wardrobe, this musical is a celebration of the little, black dress and head of wardrobe Sue Daniels turns it into an art form with the stunning pieces specifically selected for each character.
The sleek flapper look certainly looks good on our own Jade Hubner!
Chicago runs at Artscape, Cape Town until the 14th of April, then at Montecasino’s Teatro in Johannesburg from the 20th April to the 26th of May.