Photo by Julia Kelley

The Otterbein Theatre and Dance Department will be putting on the musical “Chicago” based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. “Chicago,” will premiere September 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Frische Theatre in Cowan Hall.

"Chicago" is based in the roaring twenties and revolves around Roxie Hart, a woman who attempts to frame her husband for murder. During her time on death row, she competes with another inmate, Velma Kelly, in such of fame, fortune and acquittal. 

Elizabeth Saltzgiver, the audience services director for the theater department, said that choosing the performances for the department is a long selection process. She said that they must choose a production based on academic education for students in the theater department and the talent that is in the department at the time of selection.

Saltzgiver said, “This fall, we had a lot of really great dancers. We’ve been wanting to do Chicago forever, it’s very difficult to get the rights for it, to get the licensing. So, we decided to try again but we really didn’t think we would get it. We were very surprised, very happy that we not only got the license, but we got it in a year where we had the talent that we could produce it.”


Planning for this production started last spring with design meetings and casting taking place before summer break. Marley Runk, a junior theater major and assistant director for “Chicago” said that rehearsals started with the actors off book a week before students were back on campus for this school year. Saltzgiver said that each production has a minimum of 60 hours for rehearsals and building the production stage.

Runk said, “It’s a lot of collaboration between a lot of different areas. It’s much more than what happens in the rehearsal room, which is obviously very important, but it is a lot of interdepartmental conversations and ideas.”

Abby Kress, a senior musical theater major who plays the character of Roxie, said that the audience should look behind the razzle dazzle of the show to see the deeper story.


Kress said, “Our theme is a glitter over dirt theme. We have a lot of sparkle and the musical numbers are spectacular. One of my entire costumes is just sequins, complete sequins, but the parts that I wear that costume are the parts where my character is deteriorating as a human being. It is interesting the polarity of my character versus the appearance of her, like fame versus human quality.”

Tickets can be purchased at the box office in Cowan Hall Monday through Friday from noon to 4:00 p.m. Students can receive one free ticket to a performance of their choice when they present their Cardinal Card. Faculty and staff can receive free tickets to Thursday and Sunday performances and half-priced tickets on Friday and Saturday performances.

The show times and cast list for “Chicago” can be found on the Otterbein website.

Otterbein’s "Chicago," performance is being directed by Melissa Lusher, choreographed by Stella Hiatt Kane with music direction by Lori Kay Harvey. Lighting design by T.J. Gerckens and Costume design by Thomas Martin.