ATTRAKCION Presents Broadway’s “Chicago” in Astana

ASTANA – Theatre lovers are swinging from the chandeliers as the amateur musical theatre Attrakcion showcases its interpretation of “Chicago,” Broadway’s satirical and sassy musical. Performances will run until March 21.

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Photograph: Attrakcion Theatre

The public’s growing interest in musicals inspired the troupe to produce larger shows this season. The youth theatre secured its bite of the cherry when it obtained amateur rights to stage one, if not the most popular musical, of the day. Attrakcion also changed its usual performance venue from Gumilyov Eurasian University to a larger stage at the Historical and Cultural Center of the First President.

The entire “Chicago” cast is composed of actors whose day jobs are unrelated to the performing arts. The capabilities of the young performers, however, undoubtedly give professionals a run for their money. The show’s brassy numbers are powered with strong vocals, original choreography and the charismatic presence of the actors.

On stage, ornithologist-environmentalist Zhanna Aksartova transforms into Velma Kelly, a finger-snapping, hip-rolling vaudevillian and murderess. She opens the show with the famous “All That Jazz,” taking the setback to the Jazz Age gangland of the Windy City. Pediatrician and model Evgeniya Klishina delivers a sweet and sexy Roxie Hart, a would-be star who is convinced that “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Yet the biggest credit for the show’s success and public acclaim is rightfully granted to the theatre’s Founder and Director Ilyas Daniyarov, who has single-handedly produced the musical. The script translator, lyrics adapter, casting director, choreographer, acting coach, stage director and producer told The Astana Times about the preparation process.

What inspired you to produce “Chicago?”

I saw the musical on Broadway in New York City many years ago. I was fascinated with the audacity of the main characters and actors who played them. I later imagined how the saucy actors and dancers of “Chicago” would sit in a dressing room, roll their eyes and cluck their tongues at the actors of other shows. This image has stuck with me ever since, inspiring me later to do the show. When I met some of our talented actresses who were fit to the parts in the musical, the whole piece came together. I often draw my inspiration from women and their intricate world.

How long did the production take?

Nearly half a year. All the administrative arrangements, including obtaining the rights to produce the musical, securing the venue and casting started in September last year. The actual rehearsals started in December.

What was the hardest part of the production?

Juggling between the artistic stage directing and administrative management of the entire theatre is pretty challenging. Talent management can get tough, too. However, the hardest part of the production for me is taming my inner critic, curbing that inner voice that interferes with the work process and is hardly ever satisfied with any result.

Who do you think is your audience?

Our audience is anyone who loves life. A musical is one big celebration of life. I see life as an ongoing musical. Sometimes life is far more comedic and theatrical than any stage performance.

What are your expectations from the shows?

I don’t like imposing a certain reaction on a spectator. That’s why I never expect a definite audience reaction. I just want to see people come to our shows and live through certain emotions. Hopefully, seeing us play is a pleasant experience for them. We also have so many gifted actors capable of becoming acclaimed artists. I’d like to see them realise their talents in the arts.

What do you consider the biggest achievement of the theatre?

Something that started off as a one-time student performance has evolved into a permanent theatre with a five-year history of regular shows. We have grown professionally. I am proud that we have been able to stay fresh and appealing to the audience. We have found our niche and made a name for ourselves among the amateur theatres. I’m also proud that we have kept our autonomy both creatively and financially.

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