Mesa Encore Theatre will begin performing its production of the musical “Chicago” tonight, Sept. 8, through Sept. 24 at the Mesa Arts Center.
The story follows the lurid events that unfold following murders committed by Velma Kelly, played by Laura Anne Kenney and Roxie Hart, played by Kara Marzulo.
Directed and choreographed by Jean-Paoul Clemente, the show is taking a distinctive approach to the source material.
“I think every director feels that their production will always have a uniqueness and creative element that is their interpretation of any established work,” Clemente said. “No two artists will paint the same subject the same way on the canvas.”
While a great number of productions present the show in the spirit of the original’s vaudeville style, Clemente said that the Mesa Encore Theatre (MET) would have a more representational feel.
He said that it will be like “we are watching real people re-enacting memories of their experience rather than watch someone perform.”
The MET performances will pay homage in many ways to the original Broadway run, while also adding new elements for the audience to experience.
“The choreography of Bob Fosse is very much honored in this show,” Clemente said. “The choreography is original work for this production, but the influence of Fosse is very evident.”
The theme of newspapers will be present throughout, with the story told through reporters as well as subtler visual elements to be discovered by viewers.
“It’s definitely the same story, but our telling of it is different from other versions of ‘Chicago,’” said Stephanie Elizabeth Clark, who will be performing as a member of the female ensemble.
“We are in a lot of the feature numbers, and big dance numbers,” said Clark of her role. “We help contribute to telling the story through our movement, singing and dancing.”
“Chicago” is known for having adult-oriented elements like plot points involving crimes of passion and deception.
“Yes, these themes are present in the show, but I think although these are the traits some of the characters have, it is not the focus,” Clemente said. “The focus is that these are characters who are simply who they are.”
There will be plenty of activity on stage to entertain the audience, and the rest of the production will serve to heighten that experience.
“I think audience will enjoy the upbeat music,” Clark said. “Our band is absolutely incredible.”
Clemente said that the creative process was one that encouraged all those that were involved to give “input and their talents to bring about this production of ‘Chicago.’”
“Our energy is so high, and I’m so excited for audiences to come and see how dedicated and passionate we are, and how hard we worked,” Clark said.
Performances are scheduled for Sept 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 and will be in the Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse, 1 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa.
Tickets for general admission cost $32, while tickets for seniors and students with a valid ID are $28.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office of the Mesa Arts Center at 480-644-6500 or visit mesaencoretheatre.com.
– Mesa resident Kian Hagerman is a Mesa Community College journalism intern for MyNewsMesa.com.