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Theater Guild to vamp it up with 'Chicago'

Date: 2/15/2010

Feb. 15, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN - Two luscious ladies, two murders and a whole lotta jazz are the focus of the Theater Guild of Hampden's next production.

"Chicago" will be debuting at the Hampden Country Club next month and according to Mark Giza, founder of the guild, being able to perform the show is "a dream come true."

"I applied for the show four years ago and we were denied because we were a new group," Giza explained. "I had originally chosen to do 'Applause' for this production, but we found out in August we got 'Chicago.'"

The musical tells the stories of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, a vaudeville performer and a wannabe, respectively, who murder men and turn the publicity from the crimes into fame.

"It's a dark show," Giza said. "It was Bob Fosse's [director and choreographer of the show when it debuted in 1975] answer to Watergate. It's about getting away with murder and how some people will do anything for five minutes of fame."

He noted that the show will be presented in black and white with limited props, much like the original Broadway production.

Auditions for the show took place in October, and of the 57 who tried out, 28 were accepted. This includes Aileen Terzi, who is vamping it up as Velma Kelly.

"I came to the audition wanting to be Velma," she said. "She's got some of the best numbers and I really wanted to dance."

Terzi, of Springfield, has been dancing for more than 30 years and has appeared in productions of "Gypsy," "Cabaret," "Sweet Charity," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "42nd Street" and had the lead in "George M!" She originally got into musical theater because she said she felt limited being only a dancer.

"In college I was presented with the opportunity to be in a show, and I had never really sung before. I sang a capella and no one stopped me," she joked. "It opened up another whole world for me."

Terzi added that she enjoys playing Velma because the character is the opposite of who she is in real life. "I need to get deep inside and get the gruff and rough out of me," she said. "It really is my dream role."

"It's a very, very strong cast," Giza told Reminder Publications. "I've worked with about half of them before."

The cast currently meets three nights a week, working on blocking, music and dancing.

Kathleen Delaney is serving as choreographer and Tom Slowick is the music director.

Special guests are included in each performance of the show. The Hampden selectmen (John D. Flynn, Rick Green and Vinny Villamaino) along with Jamie Collins, Rick Kapinos and Rick Rubin, will all play Fred Casely on separate nights.

The show will be performed March 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 at the Hampden Country Club. Tickets are $40 each and include dinner. Tickets can be reserved by calling Deb Reardon at 566-2427, but Giza warned that some shows are already sold out.