The local stage production of Chicago has already enthralled audiences in Cape Town, New Zealand and China and has just started it’s run at the Teatro Theatre in Johannesburg. The production has gotten rave reviews from critics and audience members alike and is proving to be another incredibly successful production from the Showtime Management team.
The stage production is based on a 1926 Broadway play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a journalist from the Chicago Tribune who had covered the sensational trials of two women, both of whom were accused of killing their lovers whilst under the influence of drink and jazz.
Local actress Samantha Peo stars as lead character Velma Kelly – the nightclub singer who has been accused of murdering her husband and her sister. She is subsequently sent to Cook County Jail and hires lawyer Billy Flynn to help vindicate her. Samantha is no stranger to the local entertainment industry. She has previously performed in the stage productions of ‘Cabaret’ and ‘West Side Story’ and the dancer was also a judge on the popular local adaptation of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. As the production continues in Johannesburg, we got up close and personal with Chicago’s star.
Tell us a little bit about your character.
Velma Kelly is a vaudevillian performer, and is well known for the double act she performs with her sister. However she becomes notoriously famous for murdering her sister and husband in a crime of passion. She is the queen bee of the cell block at Cook County jail, and is loving the attention from the press. She is outspoken, sexy, sassy and confident.
How did you prepare for such a momentous role?
I know the show well after playing Roxie Hart in previous Productions, and I truly understand the vaudevillian style of play and the humour and storytelling in Bob Fosse’s work.
The production has already toured internationally and just finished its Cape Town tour. Why do you think so many people enjoy the stage production of ‘Chicago’.
The book is so brilliant with every musical number a standout. The choreography is slick, intelligent and uniquely Fosse. And the issues are hugely relevant today maybe even more so than when it was first written.
How differently do you enter a stage production than your stint as a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ stint, for example?
In Strictly Come Dancing, I was on the judging panel and played myself. I obviously prepared for that by studying up further on each dance style and the rules of the competition. And nothing was scripted. In a theatrical production you play a character as truthfully as you can, and you have a script that you follow.
Besides ‘Chicago’, what else can fans expect from you later this year?
I will be playing Velma Kelly in the world tour for the rest of the year and into 2020! And hopefully beyond….
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