story and photos by Christine Coester, special to The City Wire
ROGERS — Three words: sleek, sexy and modern.
Thursday night’s (July 26) dress rehearsal of Rogers Little Theater’s Chicago at Victory Theater in historic downtown Rogers, started with a bang. The show, with a lot of high energy and seductive lighting, opened to the public the next night.
It has taken 10 years for RLT to get the rights to perform Chicago. The musical’s Broadway revival has been ongoing since 1996; it is the longest-running musical and the most well-known vaudeville of all time.Though RLT uses volunteer actors and is deemed an amateur theater, director Ed McClure and the rest of the theater staff presented Chicago with all the prestige of the Broadway production.
On stage, an eleven-piece orchestra is seated in a box toward the back ot the stage, emphasizing the dichotomy between actors and musicians. Two vertical signs spelling out the word Chicago in capital letters of lip-stick red flank the stage.
McClure loves the feel, boasting, “Anything I dream up, they can do. No one says no. I’ve got the best production team.” Minimalistic in props — using only chairs, a few pads of paper and pencils — the focus of the show is to emphasize the vaudeville feel.
The costumes are streamlined. McClure left behind the Prohibition-era style costumes and instead opted for chic Calvin Klein tuxedos, Victoria’s Secret negligees, tight black dresses and fish net stockings. Exceptional choreography and brassy jazz should have patrons dancing and singing along from their seats. And the witty banter will have you laughing to the point of tears.
The stars of the show,— Caity Church (Roxie Hart), Laura Marie Rivera (Velma Kelly), Jason W. Collins (Billy Flynn), Betty Brutus (Matron “Mama” Morton) and Joshua Segraves (Amos Hart) — were perfectly cast. The leading ladies embrace their inner divas, strutting about the stage, and the men impress with their vocal prowess. Included in the company are Mike Clay, Brad Reed, Spencer Thompson, Will Holifield, Janella Young, Jasmine Shea, Karie Harrison, Emily Morrison, R. Lothes, Morgann Grassi, Mathew Makita, Mike Clay, Adam Powell and Sarah Potter. Eight of them are making their RLT debut with Chicago.
Performances continue tonight (July 28) and tomorrow (July 29) and then Aug. 2-5 and Aug. 9-12. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased at RLT’s website or by phone at (479) 631-8988.