BY MOLLY LEHMAN
CHICAGO @ CANTON PALACE THEATRE
“Give ’em the old razzle-dazzle,” goes the song in “Chicago” — and the Canton Palace Theatre will do just that July 21 and 22 when it stages the award-winning musical by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and Fred Kander.
The musical satirizes sensationalist journalism and the concept of the “celebrity criminal,” familiar ideas in a society that includes Fox News and Lindsay Lohan. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the plot revolves around Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, a pair of accused “murderesses” who use their crimes to climb to fame and fortune.
“We have a great mix of very strong vocalists and very strong dancers,” said director Dana Anderson. “It is awesome to have a cast that is so enthusiastic to put on a great production.”
Don’t expect a rehashing of the 2002 film with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger — both Anderson and the cast are busily putting personal twists on the script.
“[The cast is] really running with it and creating new characters that are not replicas of those in the movie. We have all agreed not to listen to the soundtrack so that they could create their own sound and not be influenced too much by someone’s interpretation,” said Anderson. “I think their characters will really come to life on stage, as the word ‘character’ has been an important word for us. Our show focuses more on the characters themselves than creating a realistic scene. Our set is minimalistic to emphasize those ideas.”
“Chicago” will run July 21 at 8 p.m. and July 22 at 2:30 p.m. at the Canton Palace Theatre.
Tickets are $25 and can be ordered online at cantonpalacetheatre.org or by phone at 330-454-8172.
“I think that Chicago has something for everyone, above a certain age,” said Anderson. “Who wouldn’t like a show full of vaudeville comedy — and murder?”
THE AGENCY @ KATHLEEN HOWLAND THEATRE
Mystery, intrigue and violent dreams will occupy Second April’s Kathleen Howland Theatre at the end of this month, when the mystery thriller “The Agency” hits the stage. Written by local playwrights Deborah Fezelle and Sherry Yanow, the play negotiates a twisting plot that Fezelle promises is “for those who like true mysteries. It’s eerie and complicated, also a bit dark — but laced with humor.”
The play takes its name from the secret organization that hires protagonist Micah Gideon to assassinate a physician, Dr. Truman Warrick. In the meantime, Warrick, experiencing violent nightmares, begins therapy sessions with a psychologist. “These two worlds collide in the end with multiple surprises where nothing is as it seemed,” said Fezelle, who also directs the production.
Fezelle and Yanow, a New York City resident, are a veteran team, having written together for eight years and staged six plays in Stark County — one of which traveled to Springfield, Ill. for a special performance. Fezelle, a Canton native, spent 25 years in New York, training at Juilliard before returning to the area. “Sherry takes the lead on our written words. I then transform it into a live production,” said Fezelle.
The cast, all local, has risen to the challenge of an original play. “Working on a new play is more trying than mounting an established play. It’s untested. As we work through the rehearsal process we discover what works and what doesn’t. Rewrites are a daily routine,” said Fezelle. “It takes serious and intelligent actors to handle this type of process … The men playing Micah and Truman are two of the finest actors I’ve ever had the privilege to direct. I often sit back and watch them in awe.”
“The Agency” will run July 26 to 28 at 8 p.m., with a matinee at 3 p.m. on July 29. All performances will be held at the Kathleen Howland Theatre at 2nd April Gallery in Canton. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 330-451-0924 or visiting secondapril.org/