Nancy Sasso Janis
OnStage Connecticut Critic
WATERBURY, CT - The Post University Theatrical Players (and a few new friends) opened their terrific production of ‘Chicago’ on Friday evening, so as not to interfere with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and it was worth the wait. Director Bob Tansley once again worked his magic with some university students and faculty, a few invited performers and for the first time this year four talented high school dancers to produce a fine version of the musical with a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse and music by Kander and Ebb. The free performances continue through March 20 at the black box theater located on the university campus.
Post University President didn’t know that he would be welcoming the audience to opening night, but he graciously did so and even mentioned how excited he was that the Naugatuck High School students had joined the company. Musical Director Keith Wilson was ready to direct the ten on-stage musicians and Mr. Tansley had already worked the crowd before heading to the booth to supervise. And a nice crowd it was of NHS supporters including Dance Team coach Donna Gomes, parents, university staff and students and community theatre celebrities including Kennedy Morris and Grace Altenburger.
Under the direction of Mr. T, the cast of various experience levels pulled off this murderous piece. Post Registrar MaryAnn D’Entremont opened the show to narrate the action as the master of ceremonies and used the simple black set designed by Carl Parks and the director to her advantage, as did the rest of the cast. It was nicely lit by Advanced Lighting and Sound Solutions.
Molly Wilson, daughter of the MD and a graduate of Pace University, was outstanding in the pivotal role of Velma. She commanded the stage as the dark-haired murderess and her NYC experience was most evident. I hope to see this up and coming triple threat in future productions. Chrissy Adamczyk, an admissions counselor at Post, held her own opposite this powerhouse as the blonde Roxie Hart in her Post debut. As the prison matron “Mama,” Abby Nemec, the director of the university’s Equine Program, gave an impressive performance in her third production at Post.
The “Cell Block Tango” was performed well by the Merry Murderesses that included Sarah Shiner in her Post debut as the doomed Hunyak, transfer student Kathleen Spezzano as Annie, senior Hailey Griffin in her Post debut as Liz, the fabulous Caity Masiewicz, Director of Main Campus Advising, as June, and Tamarra Martin in her Post debut as Mona. Junior Morgan Griffin joined her sister on the stage for the first time ever as a member of the ensemble.
Pat Hearn brought his considerable charm to the role of slick lawyer Billy Flynn in his fifth show at Post. I enjoy watching him in any role and this was one of his best. Doug McCarthy returned to this stage as the downtrodden Amos Hart and he is a natural performer. Fred Casely was well-played by Kelly Marchand in an amazing tenth production at Post.
Summer Orlando made her Post debut as the fabulous sob sister Mary Sunshine. (I also spotted her dancing in the opening number of “All That Jazz.”) In a spectacular black and sparkly number provided by costume designer/co-director/choreographer Ben Orlando, she made me smile every time she made her sweeping entrance and reminded us of “A Little Bit of Good in Everyone.” Kudos to Mr. Orlando on the signature wigs and hair for everyone, but especially on Summer.
Harrison Davis, a junior at Post, made his acting debut in the role of Sergeant Fogarty and Richard Daniel Meissner also appeared in his first show with the Post Players as the court clerk.
And those high school dance team members? Let’s just say that I could not be more proud of each and every one of them. Senior and dance team co-captain Emily Cronin, sophomore Olivia Grella, senior and co-captain Milyani Roman and sophomore Brianna Spaulding did an amazing job of dancing of course, but also did their lines and sang their ensemble numbers with aplomb. I loved watching them adding accessories to Amos’ outfit in preparation for “Mr. Cellophane” and picking them out during the classic ensemble dance numbers. It wasn’t always easy to find them because they fit in so well with the older company members and they looked great in their classic black costumes. I hope that this is just the first in a long list of productions in which I will see these lovely young ladies and I hope that there will be future collaborations with Naugatuck High School for Post productions.
Congratulations to Mr. Tansley on another ambitious production that was performed, as always, as a community service for the Waterbury area community. These free performances are worth their weight in gold.