‘Chicago’ brings the glitz in song and dance

  • New Hampshire is going to get hotter as the blockbuster musical "Chicago" takes the stage at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse through Aug. 10. —Winnipesaukee Playhouse

  • New Hampshire is going to get hotter as the blockbuster musical “Chicago” takes the stage at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse through Aug. 10.

  • A host of speed graflex cameras can't capture all the murderous and musical dazzle of the 1920s ripped from the headlines and bursting to life on the Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage in "Chicago" with shows through Aug. 10. —Winnipesaukee Playhouse

  • A host of speed graflex cameras can’t capture all the murderous and musical dazzle of the 1920s ripped from the headlines and bursting to life on the Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage in “Chicago” with shows through Aug. 10. Courtesy of the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Monitor staff
Published: 7/31/2019 5:26:27 PM
Modified: 7/31/2019 5:26:17 PM

The shimmy and shine of Chicago have taken over the Lakes Region this summer.

Clayton Phillips has returned to the Winnipesaukee Playhouse to put his own spin on directing Chicago. With an emphasis on elaborate costuming and dance, the show is being revived as its traditional flashy Vaudeville production.

While Phillips wants the show to be an entertaining and fun-filled night, he hopes the message of the production resonates with the audience.

“I want the audience to walk away understanding how relevant it is,” Phillips said.

Emphasizing the impact of the media, Chicago remains pertinent to the function of our society.

“Almost 100 years after the show was written, we are still having the same sort of issues happening in our society,” he said.

His vision is brought to life by an exceptional cast and crew. Phillipssaid he admires the talent of his strong cast, especially the two leads, Haley Jones and Ashley Whalley.

Returning to the playhouse, Jones will be taking on the role of Roxie Hart. She fulfilled the role of Tracy Lord in a 2017 performance High Society at the playhouse in. Whalley will play the role of Velma.

Jones has worked with Phillips in several other productions. Phillips first noticed her talent when she was a part of the ensemble in Funny Girl at Arizona Broadway Theatre.

“She’s a very interesting actress. She’s kind of quirky. She is a triple threat. She can sing, dance and act beautifully,” he said.

In Jones’s role as Roxie, she is playing a character who is not hopeful, just driven. Phillips said he has encouraged Jones to exude as much confidence as possible on stage.

“Roxie believes in herself, which is something that I can sometimes struggle with,” Phillips said.

To prepare for her role, Jones said she listens to music to become her character, with female empowerment being the theme of her playlist for Chicago.

Differing from the majority of shows, Chicago features two strong females as the leads.

Jones’s Roxie is joined by Whalley’s portrayal of Velma Kelly.

“Everyone is using each other in every scene. Every scene is a fighting match,” Jones said.

In comparison to the several productions she has been in, Jones has found that the standout aspect of this production is the cast.

“I am so dazzled by them,” she said.

When it comes to working alongside Whalley, Jones finds herself “trying to match her talent, because everything she brings to the table is so amazing.”

While the vivacious acting, singing and dancing is the heart of the show, the design of the set was carefully crafted to be the canvas for Chicago.

Returning for her 10th season, Scenic Designer Melissa Shakun said she was more than ecstatic to work on the set of Chicago. After being a designer and art director for Saturday Night Live, winning an Emmy award for art direction in Jesus Christ Superstar Live!, and achieving other accolades, Shakun always seems to find her way back to the Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

“My favorite part of working here is working with the people, it is so collaborative,” Shakun said. “It’s honestly the biggest highlight of my summer being here.”

Collaborating and working with everyone involved, Shakun designed a simple yet powerful set for the production.

Her biggest challenge, she said, was making sure there was enough space for the cast, ultimately creating a “clean design because the show is all about the dancing and all about the choreography.”

After joining Phillips, Shakun decided on an abstract and theatrical multi-level jail-cell design.

Though she said it was a challenge for her to make the multi-level set, her talent and perseverance were more than enough to complete the vision of the Vaudeville performance.

Everyone’s hard work, creative vision, and direction being put into Chicago will certainly make it a pizazz-filled performance to remember.

Shakun describes the playhouse as being “one of my favorite places in the whole world,” and says she cannot wait for everyone who comes to see Chicago to feel the same way.

Performances will be daily at 7:30 p.m. until Aug. 10, except on Sundays. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Aug. 1, 5 and 8. Tickets range from $20 to $39. Visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org/chicago for more information and to purchase tickets.




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