By Michael Miller
The hit musical, CHICAGO opens at Amelia Musical Theatre, Fernandina Beach, on August 4th for a 2 week run.
This show is comprised of an all high school cast, backed by a full live orchestra. After viewing the dress rehearsal last night, I have this advice: You don’t need to have a kid in the show to go see this. It is a high energy cast driven by the choreography of Jennifer McCarthy and Carey Dresser. The rousing and energetic dance routines will razzle dazzle you and of course the catchy score, including “All That Jazz”, “All I Care About ”, “Razzle Dazzle”, and “Mister Cellophane” will inhabit your brain. These features made CHICAGO the 2nd longest running show on Broadway.
Set in the jazz age, “Chicago” tells the story of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelley, two rival vaudeville performers awaiting trial for murder in the Cook County Jail. They scheme for success with their attorney Billy Flynn, reporter Mary Sunshine, Roxie’s forgotten husband Amos, and of course the Cook County Jail’s infamous Mama Morton. The show’s brilliant comparisons between show business and the justice system come to life in music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse.
At AMP, Jill Dillingham admirably fills the roles of Director, Musical Director and piano for the orchestra. Choreographer Jennifer McCarthy has been in numerous AMP productions and led choreography in previous shows. Carey Dresser, who directed the smash adult version of the play here 5 years ago danced with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center and the Manhattan Ballet in a former life. Many others, too numerous to mention here, have combined to produce an impressive entertainment offering for the fortunate residents of Fernandina Beach. The AMP venue is a small and intimate 90+ seat venue. Even in the back row you are closer to the stage than in expensive orchestra seating at larger theaters.
Taking in the dress rehearsal, brought me back to my own experiences performing in shows. The challenging work of memorizing lines, learning and perfecting songs, dance routines, all the rehearsals, the direction and nuances to be captured. I remember the nervousness and fear that I, and / or the show, would be a flop. And then somehow, on opening night it just seemed to fall into place and click. Bringing live theatre to the stage is an amazing creative and cooperative process. I see it as a miracle that this concert of individuals, all driven by a passion to perform can create this live art, in this moment, never to be seen again. It is so worth experiencing, for your own enjoyment as well as to honor and acknowledge the vulnerability, courage, and dedication of all the players. There is little of such a rich entertainment experience to compete with this. I implore you to attend.
Show dates are August 4,5,611,12,13 at 7:30 pm and August7 & 14 at 2:30 pm. AMP musicals typically sell out, so get your tickets SOON online at 904tix or by calling the box office at 904-277-3455. The show is sponsored by Royal Amelia Dance Academy and Nader’s Pest Raiders.
AMELIA MUSICAL PLAYHOUSE
1955 Island Walkway
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Michael Miller, A retired Fire Lieutenant/EMT from NY has been in FB for 8 years. He is a fierce advocate for Liberty, a sailing captain and instructor for Windward Sailing. He dabbles in theatre, photography, geopolitics and markets and now writing. Look for his writing here and at: https://firesail.substack.com/
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.