Dean Chadwick said he’s been waiting for more than a decade to get his hands on the rights to stage the 1975 musical Chicago.
“It’s been one of those restricted licences that you can’t get very easily and it finally became available to a group like ours and that was it,” the Schmooze Productions artistic director said.
“I saw it live on stage in Vancouver about 10 years ago and it was instantly my favourite. I knew it was just the best show I think I’ve ever seen.”
The musical takes place in Prohibition-era Chicago and follows a pair chorus girls imprisoned for murder who turn their infamy into self-promotion as they plan their return to vaudeville.
“I like the character development, I like the stories, I like the strong women that are in it, I like the dance, the singing, the music is fantastic,” Chadwick said.
“The story I find really relevant in today’s society, too. It takes place in the 1920s but the headlines and the things that happen and the characters could easily be from today’s world, too, which is kind of cool. I think people will relate to them.”
The production will run at Malaspina Theatre at VIU from June 20 to 30. Aside from the 20 member cast and 15-member crew, the Schmooze team will be joined on stage by a 13-piece professional jazz band.
“It’s going to be kind of amazing to work with a live band. Usually we only have about five or six band members but this time we’ve really gone big,” Chadwick said.
He said the musical is driven by plot, costume and character. The main piece of the set will be the bandstand, adding to the feeling of being in a ’20s jazz club.
“It’s called a vaudeville show, so it kind of has that feel to it,” Chadwick said.
“It feels like the characters could be talking to you at some points and other times you’re just watching a scene. So there are all sort of different things that happen.”
Chadwick said audiences will be struck by the power of Chicago’s assertive female leads and find connections between period struggles and modern times.
“There are three amazing roles for women and then the ensemble females are so incredibly strong that I think that’s what people are going to leave with,” he said.
“They’re going to feel the empowerment of that.”
WHAT’S ON … Schmooze Productions presents Chicago at Malaspina Theatre from June 20 to 24 and 27 to 30 at 7:30 p.m. and June 23, 24 and 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets $20, $30 and $40 available at www.schmoozeproductions.com.