Sands did confess that when the idea was raised to produce “Chicago,” there were some raised eyebrows with Annisquam Village Players board members. However, after long discussions, they agreed the colorful show could be produced in a way that was conducive to the troupe’s tradition.
“Like always, we have a number of families involved, and we are downplaying the violence and sex and playing up the dance. The kids will be awed by the costumes and dance, and the circus scene in the second act is like a real circus,” Sands said. “In the late 1990s, it was the most successful Broadway revival ever, which tells you about the popularity of the show.”
The two female leads are Victoria Fortune of Annisquam, who plays Roxie Hart, and Elizabeth Jelinek of Topsfield who plays Velma Kelly.
Jelinek, a theater major at Salem State College, heard about the audition a bit serendipitously and landed a leading role.
“I was very interested because I love ‘Chicago,’ and Velma is one of my favorite characters,” Jelinek said. “It’s such an interesting role to play. Plus, ‘Chicago’ is a hard thing to come by because it’s so popular.”
Manchester’s Maida Soehl plays Matron Momma Mortan, made famous in the award-winning film by Queen Latifah.
“She is another dynamo, and she gives Queen Latifha a run for her money,” Sands said. “The voices we have in the show are pretty amazing.”
Annisquam’s John Merrill is a newcomer playing Billy Flynn, the smooth-talking lawyer who brought celebrity to his clients, hoping to keep them out of prison. (Richard Gere played this role in the film.)
Two teachers at Rockport schools, who both are involved in theater productions, have roles; Keith McCarthy plays Amos Hart, Roxie’s simple-minded husband, and Denise Ferazzi plays Liz.