There are a lot of community stars in Kander and Ebb’s Chicago, currently playing at Thomaston’s Landmark Community Theatre. A steamy, sexy, production with a dream team cast and production team, the show earned a well deserved standing ovation.
Certainly, Janina Gonzalezens is a star. She sings the first solo, makes her Landmark debut, and raises the bar for the rest of the cast. She has a voice that won’t quit even when she’s kicking up a storm. She plays Velma, a murderer who is in prison awaiting her trial. She intends to beat the charge and go into show business.
Emily Diedrich is a star as Roxie, playing another murdering female who outsmarts even shrewd Velma. Roxie also wants a show business career post jail. After a theater hiatus of a year and a half, Diedrich doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to performing. Her vocals are right on and her performance dramatic.
Tom Chute as fast-talking lawyer Billy Flynn is a star. Chute is a first class act and a smooth shining star. His stage presence is so powerful that as soon as he enters the stairway to the stage, even before he sings his powerful solo, he already has the audience in the palm of his hands. Chuck Stango as Amos sings Mr. Cellophane, but Stango is anything but invisible in his star performance. As for Carletha Hawley, she earned her star as tough acting prison matron, Mama Morten, and Dan Beaudoin hangs his star on delivering the surprise of the show.
Add to this, stellar performances by: Erin McAvoy, Katie Brunetto, Amber Mason, Caitlin Barra, Jean-Marie McGrath, Malie Grasmere, Martha Irving, Leslie Bacon, Beth Harvison, Leanna Scaglione, Erika O’Keefe, Jennifer Bunger, James Goggin, Jonathan Zalaski, Shelby Davis, and Nathan Rodriguez.
T.J. Thompson as musical director and piano conductor is a sheer pleasure to watch and listen to. His enthusiasm goes straight from his baton to his orchestra. He and his orchestra are all-star musicians in this show. The biggest star goes to director Foster Reese, who not only pulled the whole show together, but who brought out the best in each cast member.
Some of the highlights of the evening include Tom Chute as a puppeteer and Emily Diedrich as Roxie performing like a puppet, with all her strings being pulled by the sharp, money-loving lawyer. Another great scene is the musical number Mr. Cellophane, featuring Chuck Stango as Roxie’s duped husband Amos. What makes this scene work so well is that when the spotlight should be on him, Alex Dunn, lighting designer makes sure it moves away from Amos. Even the orchestra stops playing for him. He might as well be invisible.
Frank Beaudry’s sound design works like a charm, especially when machine gun shots are fired rapidly, and Paul Revaz’s set design proves to be functionally attractive as a stairway smack in the middle of an orchestra. Aurora Montenero’s costume design of basically black works well.
Overall, this is a memorable production playing through May 3. Box office: 860-283-8558.