Chicago: New Women Lead the Way

SPARE’s production of Chicago opens in under two days, and everyone involved agrees it’s not just any musical.

“I think it’s going to be something superb!” said Lyndsey Boyer, who plays Roxie in the production, when we caught up with her over the phone this week.

“Everyone blows everyone away,” added Brittany Miller, the show’s Velma. “Everyone is so talented, and everyone is so supportive of that talent.”

It’s that last bit that really gets to the core of what SPARE is about, cast members and production staff agree. Almost all of the women in Chicago are new to SPARE, including both Boyer and Miller, and they say it’s been great to work with such a strong cohort of new faces.

“We’re all a family,” said Miller, “and I’ve only known these women, and these few boys, for four weeks – but I feel like I’ve known them my entire life.”

“Being new kind of put us in that same boat,” said Boyer, “so we were more open to friendships and connections – to work professionally with each other.”

Katie O’Brien, Chicago’s associate music director, says the company’s new women are making a particularly big splash in this show for a simple reason: Chicago is female-heavy to begin with.

“It’s really cool to have a show with this many female leads,” said O’Brien, “where the female decisions drive the plot of the show.”

That’s something Boyer agrees with.

“It’s been a change from a lot of the ‘typical musical theater faire,’” she said, adding that working with such a strong group of women as they find their way into SPARE’s fabric has been invigorating. “They all have their own tough background that they bring out in their takes on the characters.”

Veteran SPARE member Tony DeLousia, who has been involved in some way with almost every show the company has produced, says that this show’s cast has been welcoming to its new members.

“Everyone gets along,” he said, highlighting how Chicago’s new cast members have grown into their roles. “There’s been no real ‘discord’ that I can think of.”

Boyer, who, as an Ithaca College graduate teaching music in a local school district, is one of the cast’s more experienced members, agrees with DeLousia’s assessment.

“They’ve grown exponentially since the beginning of the process,” she said of her castmates, “and it’s been really, really neat to be working with so many other women who are taking on strong roles.”

Meanwhile, Miller says she looks to her fellow women for inspiration – especially those with more experience than her, like Boyer.

“I look up to the way she’s doing things, and I’m just amazed and inspired,” said Miller, “and it makes me want to do even better so that she can shine as well.”

O’Brien, the associate music director, says she can see how the cast’s women are taking the source material and running with it – bringing something new to the production, and the company, in the process.

“Your opinions on these characters change,” she said, alluding to the fact that she finds new moments every rehearsal even though she has seen the show before, “and their allegiances change, and you really can’t guess what’s going to happen next.”

At the end of the day, Boyer and Miller both agree SPARE’s Chicago has been a positive experience for them.

“There’s no divide between anyone, and that’s really made the process go so smoothly,” said Boyer, “and I think that’s really going to show when we’re all onstage together.”

Miller goes even further: “Come join SPARE, come see the shows, come support – and you’ll realize where the magic is!”