The ‘Chicago’ creative team at Dutch Apple has long been associated with the Broadway show, its revival and previous stars | Entertainment
From the opening notes of “All That Jazz” to the final reprise, the Tony Award-winning musical “Chicago” has captivated audiences since 1975.
The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater’s production of the legendary show is on stage until September 17. And the production’s choreographer, Gary Chryst, knows the show’s dazzling moves intimately, having staged the show on every continent except Antarctica.
He also worked directly under choreographer and director Bob Fosse in the Broadway show “Dancin,” which also starred Fosse’s protege, Ann Reinking.
Fosse, a musical theater giant, co-wrote, directed and choreographed “Chicago”; Reinking choreographed the 1996 revival of the musical, which is still playing on Broadway after more than a quarter century.
Based on the true crime stories of two malevolent female killers in 1920s Chicago, the musical tests the theory that even the most vicious criminal can get away with murder, as long as she’s beautiful and capable of killing. to exercise her feminine wiles of innocence.
The musical was based on a play of the same name by journalist and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune.
Broadway star Gwen Verdon suggested the story to her husband, Fosse. Verdon originated the role of murderous Roxie Hart, the seemingly dorky wife of mechanic Amos Hart, who fills her lover with bullets when he casually throws her.
These classic Fosse moves, with sultry shimmies, inward-turning toes, and mesmerizing “jazz hands,” gave “Chicago” its dazzle. Verdon played her leggy dance style and doe-eyed innocence as the original Roxie in the 1970s. The legendary Chita Rivera was the first sexy black-haired vixen Velma Kelly, who murders her husband and sister after to have found them together in an understanding position.
Chryst has decades of ties to “Chicago.”
As a choreographer for the Dutch production Apple, he guides his dancers through movements he first learned directly from Fosse, Verdon and Rivera.
“Gwen Verdon was the first Roxie, who later taught Ann Reinking. With Bob Fosse, Verdon taught me Fosse choreography for Fosse’s show “Dancin'” so everything is intertwined,” Chryst recalls.
He fondly looks back on his association with Reinking, who starred as Roxie in the 1996 Broadway revival, with her seductive, ballet-trained, svelte grace becoming Fosse’s muse.
“We’ve been performing together since 1979, when she hired me as a dance supervisor for ‘Chicago’ since 1998,” Chryst says.
Reinking died in 2020.
Chryst’s long association with “Chicago” has given him a deep appreciation for Fosse’s dance moves, with his distinctive style of isolation, rhythmic movements and subtle sensuality.
“Mr. Fosse was the first choreographer to use a dancer as a triple threat, meaning he believed a dancer could master all three elements of musical theatre: acting, singing, and dancing,” says Chryst.
He considers himself lucky to have worked with stars like Rivera, whom he calls an “icon in the business” and a “team player where it’s always about the show and not her.” Bebe Neuwirth, who starred as Velma in Reinking’s Roxie in the Broadway reboot, impressed Chryst as “a very special performer who is totally dedicated to work.”
Over the years, Chryst has worked with Joel Gray, Brooke Shields, Patrick Swayze, Brandy, Usher, Cuba Gooding Jr., America Ferrera, Jennifer Nettles and Billy Ray Cyrus, with Broadway credits that include “Guys and Dolls”, “A Chorus Line” and an international tour of “West Side Story”. He had a remarkable career as a dancer with The Joffrey Ballet and Nederlans Dans Theater 3.
“I was very, very lucky,” he says, just as Dutch “Chicago” stars Logan Floyd as Velma and Kate Frieden as Roxie were blessed with a choreographer who knew Velma and Roxie at the time.
Set against the decadence of the 1920s Jazz Age, “Chicago” tells the story of Roxie, and how after murdering her lover in the side, she desperately seeks to avoid condemnation – managing to fool the public, the media and his rival cellmate, Velma. She hires Chicago’s most skilled criminal attorney, Billy Flynn, to transform her from evil criminal to glittering tabloid sensation.
Tania Nardini is a director, choreographer, actress and dancer, who has directed “Chicago” in South Korea, Japan, United Kingdom, Argentina, Russia, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, France , Australia and Mexico. Born in Rio de Janeiro. Nardini sees the musical as the epitome of a classic American spectacle.
“To think that the original story is based on real events from the 20s,” says Nardini. “Looking at the news and behavior of the press and social media these days, ‘Chicago’ is absolutely timeless and relevant anywhere, perhaps now more than ever.
“Everything about this show is classic: the script, the music, the decor, the costumes, the lights,” adds Nardini.
With Floyd as Velma and Frieden as Roxie, Apple’s Dutch production cast includes Edward Miskie as Billy, Brian Kalinowski as Amos, Christina Wells as Matron “Mama” Morton, and GA James as Mary Sunshine.
Set includes Michelle Attardo, Lincoln Belford, Cate Benioff, Megan Campbell, Tony Carrubba, Jess DiForte, Ed Gotthelf, Robert Garris AKA Shapiro, Jasmine Janae, Tal Kadem, Liz Lester, Chase McFadden, Sammy Tuchman, Asher Van Meter, Jordan Vasquez and Evy Vaughan.
And all of those names play an important role in making the show happen, says Nardini.
“Chicago is what we call an ensemble show, which means everyone on stage is equally important in telling the story,” she says. “Everything is very detailed, very sensual and extremely classy.”