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'Chicago' brings musical satire to university stage

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From left, standing: Bradford Barnes, Melanie Sutrathada, Caitlin O'Leary, Luc Anthony Luzzo; lower, Krystal Bates perform in "Chicago." (Photo: Aaron Scott)

  • February 11, 2010

“Chicago,” the musical satire of the windy city’s gangster era, comes to the Cal State East Bay stage March 5 for a two-week run.

The cast of 23 students will perform at 8 p.m. March 5, 6, 12 and 13, and at 2 p.m. March 7 and 14 in the University Theatre, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward. An opening night reception by Friends of the Arts will benefit student scholarships.

Director Darryl V. Jones of the theatre and dance faculty said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to produce the well-known musical.

“’Chicago’ has been on my list of must-do musicals here at Cal State East Bay for many years, but due to the release of the film and the popularity of the Broadway and touring productions we could not get the rights (before),” said Jones.

“When we received the news mid-summer that we could do the show, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation," said Jones, who shares choreography duties with Laura Elaine Ellis. "‘Chicago’ is the ideal showcase for our blossoming musical theatre program, because it challenges our students to master the crafts of acting, singing and dancing. Each discipline demands rigorous preparation in the studio and classroom before one is ready to perform at the professional level.”

“Chicago,” with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, based on a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, debuted on Broadway in June 1975 and ran for more than 900 performances. Its 1996 revival was Broadway’s sixth longest-running show, with more than 5,400 performances. The film version of the musical won six Academy Awards in 2003, including best picture.

In this cautionary tale of what lengths people will go to achieve their 15 minutes of fame and fortune, Jones and his collaborators (Richard Olmsted and Regina Cate, sets; Chalia LaTour, costumes; and Cersar Cancino, music director/conductor) draw a link between the 1920s gangster's rise to fame and the gangsta rise to fame in the 1990s that spurred hip hop gang icons. Simultaneously, the choreography will stay true to Bob Fosse’s original style that today influences music videos by artists such as Beyonce, Shakira and Justin Timberlake. 

Jones said that last year’s production of “Sophisticated Ladies” proved that the university has the talent and ability to present productions that rival some of the best local theatre companies. In selecting “Chicago,” he said, he hopes attendance will soar, as well.  

Tickets prices –– at $18 general; $15 youth/senior/alumni; $10 for CSUEB students, or $50 for the benefit –– include wine, an appetizer reception, entertainment and special seating, and may be reserved at http://class.csueastbay.edu/theatre/Ticket_Reservations.php. For information, call (510) 885-3118.

CSUEB welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodation upon request. Please notify event sponsor in advance at (510) 885-3118, if accommodation is needed. 


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