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    Director Jeffery Vardon’s Chicago promises a true-blue retelling of the Broadway classic

    After running through fairy tales and the animal kingdom with their last two musicals, Shrek and The Lion King, The Hot Shoe Dance Company is back on stage with the satirical musical, Chicago. “I know it’s already been done in the city (in 2009),” says Jeffery Vardon, the man behind it all. “But this one has been my heartburn for a while now,” he adds. With just a day to go before their grandiose musical hits the stage, the excitement is palpable. And with names as big as Varalakshmi Sarath-kumar and Vishal Film Factory producing, and Yuvan Shankar Raja sequencing the music, you can bank on one thing for sure: generous servings of Razzle Dazzle.

    DRAMA2Dress rehearsal
    “We actually flew to Bangkok just to pick out Las Vegas-style headgear for our cast,” recalls Vardon, giving us a glimpse of the colourful feather plumes we’ll be seeing on stage. And everything from brooches with bling to fishnet body suits and blonde wigs has been sourced from the Chicago Costume Company in the US, the very same company that provided costuming for the Broadway musical. Also, while most theatrical productions schedule their hair and make up for a few hours before the show, Vikram Mohan, the owner of Bounce, tells us, “We’ve been handling their 1920’s look for over a couple weeks.” Expect symmetric bobs (as many as the girls will allow) and slick side swept gelled hair for the men, we’re told.
    Even as the extravagant production is being orchestrated to perfection, there have been a few challenges to overcome. “Our lead for Billy Flynn (Cassius Leon) is based in Bangalore,” reveals the director. Since he can’t make it for every practice session, Vardon tells us with a laugh, “He sings to me over the phone.” The other names you will probably remember from the Oscar-winning film are Roxie Hart (to be played by Aishvarya Suresh) and Velma Kelly (Amrita Fredrick).

    Tuning things
    Coming to the big numbers that the Broadway musical has built its reputation upon, all the lead vocals will be live. The choruses for some tunes will be pre-recorded by Madras Musical Association’s esteemed Augustine Paul, and the music mix will be taken care of by Timmy Madhukar. God knows, the phrase ‘All that Jazz’ will be no exaggeration when the curtains go up this weekend.

    On October 11 and 12, at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall. Tickets—from Rs.300 to Rs.1,000—is available at eventjini.com and at O2 Health Studio, Nungambakkam. For reservation or delivery, contact 9790560767 / 9790560748.

    —Sonali Shenoy

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