She grew up in Norwell, but Chicago is Lauren Gemelli’s kind of city.
Gemelli stars in the touring production of the hit musical “Chicago”. It takes place May 2-7 at the Providence Performing Arts Center. She plays Liz, one of the six merry murderers of the explanation number “Cell Block Tango”, which explains why each victim “had made her come”.
Gemelli wasn’t even born when Bob Fosse – along with John Kander and Fred Ebb – made her Broadway debut in 1975. But she said being a part of “Chicago” has always been a dream. “It’s the perfect musical,” Gemelli said over the phone from a tour stop in Milwaukee.
Gemelli said she was not surprised by resistance from a power struggle show amid a jazz-era murder trial.
“It’s a satire and a commentary on the American legal system,” Gemelli said. “It’s about fame and our culture is so obsessed with it. The show simply resonates. I can’t turn on the TV without making a parallel with the show.
In addition, there is the razzle. “Our ‘Cell Block Tango’ is such a strong female number with six women telling their stories,” Gemelli said.
And the glare! “Costumes are something else. You have to prepare for it, ”she laughed, referring to the skimpy outfit of black fishnets, bustiers and boas.
Not to mention all that jazz. “Everything is so iconic,” she said.
Gemelli has been on the road with production in the United States since November 2015 and will travel as far as Japan and South Korea this summer.
Gemelli began performing in plays at Vinal Elementary School in Norwell. Her first musical was “Once Upon a Mattress” while at Norwell High School. She left Norwell after her freshman year and graduated from Marshfield High School in 2003.
Gemelli’s first community production was “La Cage Aux Folles” at Norwell’s Company Theater. She also trained at the now closed Boston Ballet School in Norwell, dancing for a few years with the troupe in “The Nutcracker”. His first professional job was with the Worcester Foothills Theater Company.
Homebase is now in New York, but his father, Mark Gemelli, lives in Weymouth and his brother, Nicholas, resides in Marshfield.
Gemelli’s other nationally touring productions include “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “The Phantom of the Opera”. She also appeared in “Oliver!” at the Théâtre du Repertoire de la Trinité.
In addition to playing the murderous Liz, Gemelli is the understudy of man-killer Velma Kelly and corrupt prison matron, Mama Morton. Earlier this month, Gemelli became Velma in place of Terra C. MacLeod at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
“It was exciting and scary,” Gemelli said. “But I had the support of everyone around me. And I was able to play in front of a sold-out audience.
Gemelli said she and her choir line mates played multiple roles. From the first number, “All That Jazz”, the public is seduced by the whirling hips of the whole, its undulating steps and its sensual expressions of greed.
“The ensemble is the backbone of the show,” Gemelli said. “We all have our own individual arcs at the end… ‘Chicago’ showcases the talent of everyone in the show. I love how each member of the company is an important part of the story.
“Chicago” also stars John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld”) as venal defense attorney Billy Flynn. O’Hurley grew up in Natick and attended Natick’s high school. Grammy-winning singer Brandy Norwood (“The Boy is Mine”) stars as Roxie Hart, the man-killer with a heart of gold.
CHICAGO Theater Preview Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander; words of Ebb; directed by David Hyslop; choreography by David Bushman. May 2-7 at Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St., Providence, RI. $ 56 and more; 401-421-2787 or www.ppacri.org.
Dana Barbuto can be reached at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.