Chicago, that toddling play
There is a new playhouse in Pleasanton, the Firehouse Arts Center. A beautiful facility, with an art gallery and a theater seating maybe 300. It’s about 2 years old, although Gail and I got there for the first time Saturday night to see Chicago in a new production directed by our friend Lois Grandi.
The production was put on by the Pacific Coast Repertory Theater, a relatively new company founded by two Equity actors who live in Pleasanton, David Judson and Joy Sherratt, musical director Pat Parr and actor Scott Maraj.
The theater contains an open stage area; there are no curtains or wings. A large turntable stage left allows entrances and exits and quick changes of scene. The band sits at the top of a group of steps at the back of the stage. I noticed tables on the sides where people were sitting with their wine bottles and ice buckets–big shots? big donors? I gotta find out how to get one of those tables, since Gail didn’t like sitting in the front row dead center.
The performance was excellent, given that there were only 2 Equity members in the cast–you guessed it, the company founders, David Judson is Billy Flynn and Joy Sterratt is Roxy Hart. Velma Kelly is played by Nicole Fryman, a 30 veteran of theater, cabaret and film. Sebastian Romeo gave a wonderful, touching performance as Amos Hart, the schmo of a husband Roxy walks all over.
Since they announced that there was no flash photography, I felt free to take non-flash photos and even a short video. Here is David Judson beginning my favorite song, “The Old Razzle-Dazzle”:
The lighting effects were excellent and dramatic for such a small theater. A mylar sheet on the back wall stage left became many different colors and looks just by changing the lights. You can see it here in a photo as Joy Sterratt sings “Roxy”:
Chicago is one of the great musicals, written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, with music by John Kander. Fosse did the original choreography, which Lois has excellently adapted for Firehouse stage. We’ve seen it on stage in San Francisco, Gail saw it in New York with Ann Reinking and Bebe Neuwirth, everyone saw the film a few years ago. It’s hard for a local production to stand up to all that, but the Pacific Coast Rep does a fine job and gave us an excellent and enjoyable production.