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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

One of the last shows to play Spokane before the pandemic, ‘Chicago’ returns on its 25th anniversary tour

By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

For once, the show did not go on.

After the touring company of “Chicago” finished a two-night stand at the First Interstate for the Center of the Arts in early March 2020, Logan Floyd looked forward to the evolution of the show. Floyd plays Velma Kelly, the aloof nightclub singer and one of the iconic production’s leads, and was only weeks into the tour.

“We were only 16 performances into our tour when we left Spokane,” Floyd said while calling from Auburn, Alabama. “The show was still pretty new to all of us. I was wondering what would change.”

The big change was that the tour was canceled. Days after Chicago’s final performance at the First Interstate, the production was halted due to the pandemic.

“We were headed to California when we were told everything had to stop,” Floyd said. “A lot of us don’t remember that we thought back then that our lives would be interrupted briefly. I remember thinking we were just going to take a two-week or four-week break.”

“Chicago” returned to the road in 2021 and Kelly and colleagues have since delivered more than 250 performances.

“It’s certainly different for all of us now since we have so much experience playing these parts for so long,” Floyd said. “There are so many nuances that weren’t there when I was last in Spokane. It’ll be different for the audience like it’s different for us. I just love playing this character, who is so unique. I remember seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones play this part in ‘Chicago,’ the movie and I just loved her. I play her differently and I play her differently as the months pass. ‘Chicago’ is a one of a kind experience.”

“Chicago” is based on a play of the same name by reporter/playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Greater for the Chicago Tribune.

Cecil B. DeMille produced a silent film version of “Chicago” in 1927. Bob Fosse turned it into a musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1975.

The quick-witted vaudevillian Kelly welcomes the audience at the show’s open to “All That Jazz.” During the opening number, the scene cuts to a murder committed in the bedroom of a chorus girl.

Murder and Chicago. Much has remained the same in the Windy City a century after Watkins penned her play.

“Chicago, the city, is a fascinating place,” Floyd said. “Chicago, the play, I was always very much pulled to it since it’s a much darker musical. It’s a far cry from ‘The Sound of Music.’ I love how gritty and sarcastic Chicago is. It’s such a challenge for an actor but I love a challenge. I also love how great the roles are in Chicago for females.”

“Chicago” is a musical that tells women’s stories predominantly through performance by female characters. It’s an empowering play. “No, I’m no one’s wife but, oh, I love my life,” Kelly sings in “All that Jazz.”

The women are independent and witty. “It was a little daunting playing this part but I geeked out with all of my actor heart,” Floyd said. “But that’s the way it goes when you’re part of a play like ‘Chicago.’”

Thanks to the pandemic and its interruptions, “Chicago” is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Broadway revival. “It’s funny how that is but that’s the way it’s gone due to lockdown,” Floyd said. “But there’s a reason ‘Chicago’ is still so popular. It’s theater gold. The show is tight. There are so many great things about this play. There’s the choreography, the writing and the score, which are all phenomenal. The other reason for its longevity is that the audience still finds truth in the play even though it was written years ago. It’s still relevant and so entertaining. ‘Chicago’ has all of the elements that you want in a musical.”