In a twist worthy of this musical, “Chicago” finally will make good with Folsom.
With two Broadway-veteran headliners, the Bob Fosse hit opens Thursday at Harris Center for the Arts – a full year and two postponements after the musical’s national touring company was supposed to play that 850-seat theater. The show’s seven local performances are nearly sold out.
“The bizarre thing, we’ve actually sold more tickets to this production than to anything else we’ve done before,” Harris Center executive director Dave Pier said. “Clearly, this is a very popular show and people want to see it.”
Inspired by a 1924 real-life murder case, “Chicago” continues to razzle dazzle with its topical themes of celebrity, scandal and media manipulation – plus all that jazz.
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As part of a national and international tour celebrating the musical’s 20th anniversary on Broadway, “Chicago” originally was scheduled to play Folsom in March 2016. Complications with the tour’s overseas bookings forced the tour to reschedule its Folsom appearance to August 2016, but those dates had to be scrubbed, too.
“In over 20 years of presenting the performing arts, literally thousands of performances, I have never before experienced the need to reschedule an engagement twice,” Pier wrote in a letter to ticket subscribers. “Harris Center patrons have clearly shown interest in seeing ‘Chicago,’ and we have worked diligently, despite the challenges, to bring the show here rather than cancel the engagement.”
In waiting, Folsom gets a big Broadway bonus. This newly formed cast features standout leads with decades of Broadway experience. Maxwell Caulfield, who played headline-grabbing defense attorney Billy Flynn in the London production of “Chicago,” will reprise that role. Kim Morgan Greene, part of the original Broadway cast for “Fosse,” stars as suspected killer Roxie Hart, a role she sang and danced in previous productions. Greene, a Fosse protegé, also handled the choreography for this production.
Coincidentally, Caulfield and Greene played non-dancing husband and wife on TV’s “Dynasty II: The Colbys” in the late 1980s, noted Pier.
“There were some concerns (from subscribers) about this production, but it should be first rate,” Pier said. “The cast kept changing.”
Gary McAvay of Columbia Artists Theatricals, the musical’s booking agent, worked with Harris Center and the musical’s producers to bring “Chicago” to Folsom. That included bringing in another producer for this engagement while the national touring company performs this week in Baton Rouge, La., and Sarasota, Fla.
“Rescheduled shows are not uncommon, but rarely do they occur twice at the same theater,” McAvay said. “When it was not possible to bring the national touring company to Folsom for the second date, … we got the producers of ‘Chicago’ to agree to license Plan-B Entertainment to produce the show.”
The new ensemble now in Folsom is expected to tour as well, Pier said. Dates are now being lined up.
“It’s not the tour (company) we thought we were getting, but it looks like it will be out touring next year,” he said. “With the popularity of this show, it’s always touring. We’re getting the freshest one.”
Chicago: The Musical
Where: Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
8 p.m. Thursday, March 23; 2 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 24 and 25; 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 26
Information: 916-608-6888, www.HarrisCenter.net