‘Chicago’ Brings the Roaring ’20s to the 21st Century

Illustration by Serina Mercado
Illustration by Serina Mercado

By Margaret Weir

City College finally got its hands on the iconic musical “Chicago” 11 years after the theatre department applied for the rights.

Samuel French Inc., a company that licenses plays to schools and theatre troupes, is bogged down by requests for “Chicago.” Director Deborah Shaw and her colleagues, music department chair Madeline Mueller and director of music Michael Shahani, are thrilled to have permission at last.

“The joke was ‘What musical are you doing next year?’ ‘Chicago!’ Because we never got it,”  Shaw said.  

Set in its namesake during the 1920s, the show features the possibly-murderous duo Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, played by City College students Samantha Delucchi and Jennifer Cleary.

Both Cleary and Delucchi have participated in theatre at City College before, when Delucchi played lead character Elle Woods in last semester’s “Legally Blonde,” and Cleary was in “Wonderful Town” in fall 2014.

“Chicago is relevant today because it pokes fun at corruption in the justice system and plays with the idea of celebrity criminals,” Shaw said.

Chicago begins when starlet-wannabe Roxie Hart murders her lover and is sent to jail, where she meets B-List celebrity Velma Kelly. When Kelly turns down Hart’s initial offer of friendship, the two vie to garner the most media attention to each of their cases. The rivalry hits its peak when Kelly and Hart both want the legendary lawyer Billy Flynn to defend them in court.

Shaw said Bob Fosse, the original choreographer for the show, is “the man.” Fosse won an Oscar, a Grammy and a Tony all in 1973 for the category of best director. He is known for his liberal use of jazz hands.

“The Fosse style is not easy!” Shaw said, and that Chicago is “sort of like the dream show in musical theatre.”

The show will run Friday nights on April 15 and 22 at 8 p.m., Saturdays on April 16 and 23 at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees on April 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.

General admission is $15, or $10 for students, seniors and Theater Bay Area members. Purchase tickets through www.brownpapertickets.com. For disability-related accommodations call the City College ADA coordinator at 415-241-2294.


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Send an email to: Margaret Weir or tweet @mags_weir