Sex, murder and jazz are heating up the holiday slot at Skylight Opera Theatre, the respected resident theatre in Milwaukee, now enjoying the biggest hit of its history with Chicago.
Artistic director Richard Carsey, who musical directs, told Playbill On-Line he had originally planned The Sound of Music for the holiday period, but found there is not a licensed version of the most recent Broadway revival, which is a draft he preferred to the original. In thinking about available talent, he wondered if Chicago, the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Bob Fosse show about two murderesses and their dreams of vaudeville, might be possible for his theatre. He had casting ideas for Roxie, Velma and Billy, but would murder play between Thanksgiving and Christmas?
"There were certain people who were nervous about such a dark show during the holidays," Carsey said, admitting he was a little concerned about it, too. "But I was pretty sure it would sell."
The Nov. 22-Dec. 22 staging comes during a time when the Broadway revival of the musical is still running, and a month before the film version, which is getting positive advance word, goes nationwide. There are only about 100 seats left for the run of Chicago. Following the Nov. 24 local rave reviews, Skylight enjoyed three record-setting days at the box office.
Skylight Opera presents its own season of revivals and new works of opera and musical theatre in a 375-seat horseshoe-shaped jewelbox. Skylight's Chicago is directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett, with costumes by Brian Hemesath. Carsey said the show is more realized than the current Broadway conception and has "more of a '20s" feel to it than the sleek monochromatic Broadway staging and "fleshes out the vaudeville ideas suggested in the script." As was the convention in 1975, the band is on stage.
The cast includes Tari Kelly (Velma), Angela Iannone (Roxie) and Branch Woodman (Billy).
For more information, visit www.skylightopera.com.