Seasoned senior sings ‘All That Jazz’

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Dave Dillon

Shana Weinstock, left, and Deidre Lynch pose as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, respectively, for their roles in the upcoming musical Chicago; A Vaudeville Musical from March 24-April 1, 2012 at the Little Theater of Wilkes Barre.

Gia Mazur, Reporter

Senior Shana Weinstock has been performing in musicals since she was 10 years old. The lauded actor has taken classes at Wilkes University for 22 semesters and has a scholarship in her name.  But there is one achievement that has eluded her: She had always wanted to portray Velma Kelly in the musical Chicago.

“Obviously, the show is very risqué, so we didn’t do it, but for my last voice recital I sang, “All That Jazz.” So that was my big thing,” said Weinstock.

Her stage dreams came true in January when The Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre announced it would be putting on Chicago this spring. Weinstock went out for the show and after three rounds of auditions, she won the role of Velma Kelly. She thinks her background in dance helped her to nab the role of the vaudeville vixen.

“I’ve been taking dance since I was 3,” said Weinstock. “Almost 18 years. So, dance is obviously my strongest point. So, I think I had really had a plus from the other girls at the audition because Chicago is all [Bob] Fosse.”

Chicago is a musical about Roxie Hart who is on trial for murdering a man. While in prison, Roxie meets Velma Kelly, a vaudeville performer who is charged with murder. Billy Flynn, the best defense attorney in the state of Illinois, takes on the women’s cases while they each hope to capitalize on pre-trial publicity to become famous.

Weinstock researched her role by watching the movie over and over and watching clips on YouTube of the various actresses who have played the role of Velma. She even went to see the show on Broadway. Weinstock feels this is the best way to deepen the relationship she has with her character.

“Every time I go to the theater I try to leave everything behind that’s Shana. I try to make Velma my own little person,” said Weinstock. “I just got the wig and it’s like, once I put the wig on, I am instantly in character.”

Weinstock has performed in numerous shows with the LTWB including West Side Story, Sweet Charity, Rent, and most recently Footloose in which she portrayed the female lead, preacher’s daughter Ariel Moore. Weinstock says Chicago will hold a different meaning to her.

“This is probably going to be my last show for a while, because I want to go to law school,” said Weinstock. “It’s going to be a bittersweet feeling when we close.”

Weinstock isn’t the only member of the MU community to perform.  Madison Bradley, Janelle Nemetz and Catherine Steinhoff will also don their sequins and fishnets for the show, as will faculty member Scott Woolnough.

“He’s amazing. [It’s amazing] how he can sing that high,” said Weinstock of Woolnough’s portrayal of female journalist Mary Sunshine, who is revealed to be a man at the end of the show.

Weinstock explains that the LTWB’s version of Chicago will be different than the 2002 film version and the Broadway production.

“We’re doing the vaudeville, so it’s completely different from the Broadway show,” said Weinstock. “It’s more of a vaudeville musical from the 1920s.”

The show will feature a minimalistic set like the Broadway show and include an 11-piece onstage orchestra, she said.

Weinstock hopes to continue performing in the future, but as for now, she’s very happy with this moment in her life.

“It’s like a dream. It’s perfect. It’s my last show. It’s my favorite show that I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

Performances of Chicago will be at The Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre on 537 N. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre on March 24, 30, 31 at 8 p.m. and March 25 and April 1 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling (570)-823-1875.