Mothers can find risque fun in ‘Chicago’

For some, Moms Weekend means the usual bonding time with their parent — dinner, maybe some shopping and just enjoying the University campus. For those in the cast, crew and audience of the musical “Chicago,” however, this Moms Weekend will include jazz, dancing and a glimpse into a risqué history.

Each year on Moms Weekend, the Illini Union Board puts on a spring musical. Directed and run by students, this musical gives both veteran theater students and first-time performers an opportunity to get on stage. This year, the Board voted on something a little different and slightly more scandalous than usual in “Chicago,” which will play Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Assembly Hall.

Tess Mody, junior in LAS, is the producer for “Chicago” and a director on the Illini Union Board for 2012. She believes that, along with the talent in the show, the musical itself will bring in a large audience.

“I think part of the draw is just the show name,” Mody said. “And I think Moms Weekend is definitely the most ideal; students definitely want to take their moms to the show. Moms Weekend is a large weekend, and we’ve got a large space, a large show, just large everything.”

Alicia Schneider, senior in ACES and Velma Kelly’s understudy in the show, said “Chicago” is a great choice for this show because of the University’s location.

“‘Chicago’ is a wonderful experience. The fact that it’s held in a city in Illinois is important,” Schneider said. “I love how our director is taking this in a different direction, how he portrays the characters in that era, back in the day in Chicago.”

The cast and crew of “Chicago” have been working hard since December to produce the musical. According to Mody, nearly 100 people auditioned for roles in the show. Of those, just 24 made it into the cast.

Those 24 cast members, along with the crew and orchestra, put in long hours to produce the show, rehearsing four hours a night, five days a week. They also put in hours on the weekend working on the set, which was built in a warehouse on campus before being moved to the Assembly Hall for the show.

“The cast is required to do 15 hours total of warehouse in order to get comp tickets to the show,” Mody said. “It’s been a really cool process for me, and especially for the actors, because a lot of the actors haven’t had the experience of actually building a set.”

The set has a large space to fill, as the Assembly Hall in one of the largest venues on campus. Many of the actors agreed that being on stage at the Assembly Hall is exciting, but also a little intimidating. One of those actors is Noel Konken, freshman in ACES, who plays the lead of Roxie in the show.

“It makes me kind of nervous. I don’t think I’ve ever performed anywhere as big as Assembly Hall,” Konken said. “But it makes it even more exciting, because it makes it feel like you’re actually in a professional show.”

Tickets are on sale at the door and range in cost from $12 to $18, depending on location. The cast expects a great turnout for the show, and believes that the musical is something distinct that will make Moms Weekend great.

“It’s entertaining and it’s risqué, and it’s just a fun, upbeat show that mothers will love,” said Justice Janowski, junior in FAA and member of the cast. “Nothing says a good mothers weekend like booze, jazz and dance.”