After five years of waiting, Woodside Community Theatre (WCT) is finally putting on "Chicago."
Co-producer Donna Losey said the local theater group kept putting in requests for the rights to do the show and was rejected year after year, probably because it was touring nationally. This time around, WCT got permission and will stage the musical on six dates starting Oct. 16.
Based on real murder trials from the 1920s, "Chicago" is one of Broadway's longest running American musicals. The original Broadway show opened in 1975 with music by John Kander, lyrics and book by Fred Ebb and choreography by Bob Fosse. WCT is sticking closely to that version.
"The 1996 revival of 'Chicago' really changed a lot of the original intent," said director Stephanie Maysonave. "We're paying homage to the original vaudevillian acts ... the sex, intrigue, mystery, jazz, booze and all that."
Maysonave is making her directorial debut with WCT two years after appearing as a showgirl in its production of "The Producers." She said she's thrilled to be directing "Chicago" because she's a "huge Bob Fosse fan" and the show "has been on my bucket list for years."
Steve Wilner gave similar reasons for his willingness to drive all the way from Dublin to play the role of lawyer Billy Flynn. "This is a dream role," he said, "ever since I saw the original on Broadway."
Auditions took place in June. About half of the 70 people who tried out landed parts. No one is paid. For everyone participating in the group's annual show, it's on his or her own dime and time.
Rehearsals are taking place at Hillview Middle School, where cast member Richard Vaughan teaches music, and in San Carlos, where choreographer Kim Harvath has a dance studio.
The actress playing Roxie, Arielle Rothman, has an easy commute on the San Carlos days because she lives there. With her professional background in writing, recording and performing music, she feels she is bringing a different dimension to her part.
"Roxie is normally a dancer," she says. "We chose to go with a singer who can move."
Audience members may remember Ms. Rothman from when she played the lead in Woodside School's eighth-grade operetta, "Annie," as well as in Woodside High's "The Wiz."
Appearing in the other major roles in "Chicago" are Adrienne Herro as Velma, Mike Fatum as Amos and Marisol Urbano as Mama Morton.
Fiona Ryan of Woodside plays one of the Merry Murderesses.
The Woodside High network is alive and well at WCT, both on and off the stage.
The choreographer went to school there, as did three of the cast members she is teaching dance moves to: Cheryl Ringman, Adrian Contreras and Leslie Chocano.
Current Woodside High students Cella Hussussian and Stephen Rodondi are in the ensemble, too, alongside former Woodside High parent John Tondino.
Former Woodside High parents working behind the scenes include: Nancy Krosse as assistant stage manager (she played the lead in WCT's "Curtains" last year), Karen Patrick and Lyndesay Adams on costumes, Tina Patrick as head painter, Deborah Rosas on properties, Mary Ann Draeger on publicity, Marsha BonDurant on the program, Darrell Batchelder on the program and marketing, Steve Patrick as chief builder and Akio Patrick as set designer and technical director.
Former Woodside High parent Donna Losey is co-producing with Mark Bowles and Liz Matchett. They originally met at Woodside School.
Former Woodsiders are involved, too. Mr. Bowles' son, Ben, is the sound operator and Fletcher Johnson is back running the computerized rigging system for scenery and curtains.
Don Coluzzi of Portola Valley is returning to head up lighting, assisted again by Joan Rubin of Woodside.
Woodside resident Richard Gordon is back as music director, conducting a live orchestra of 14. The set will be divided into two levels, with the band playing on stage rather than in a pit.
What: "Chicago," presented by Woodside Community Theatre
Where: Woodside Performing Arts Center, Woodside High, 199 Churchill Ave.
When: Friday, Oct. 16-Sunday, Oct. 25. Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Info: Go to woodsidetheatre.com or call 650-206-9282.
Kate Daly is an editorial intern with the Almanac.