Chicago stars share memories about their Mothers' - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Friday, May 12, 2023

Chicago stars share memories about their Mothers'

Rachael Schur, 'Annie' in the musical CHICAGO

Despite the seemingly different themes, the celebration of Mother's Day and the musical Chicago actually share a common thread: the power of women.

In Chicago — the musical, is a timeless classic that has been performed around the world since its debut in 1975—the female characters Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly are both strong, independent women who are on death row and have to use their intelligence to maneuver around a corrupt criminal justice system.  

Similarly, Mother's Day celebrates the power and influence of women in our lives. The holiday honors mothers, grandmothers, and other maternal figures who have shaped us into the people we are today. It recognizes the often-unseen work that women do in raising families, supporting communities, and contributing to society.

Both Mother's Day and Chicago highlight the importance of recognizing and celebrating the contributions of women. Whether it's through the power of performance in the theater or the power of motherhood in our daily lives, women have played and continue to play a vital role in shaping our world. By acknowledging and honoring their strength and influence, we can work towards a more equal and just society.

In a beautiful display of gratitude and appreciation, we approached cast members, Jessica Ernest, Mary Claire King, Drew Nellessen, Rachael Schur, and Michael Scirroto to share their heartfelt reflections on how the influential figures in their lives - their beloved mothers - have made an indelible impact on their paths to success. Here is a glimpse into the profound and poignant insights they generously shared about their cherished mothers.

Michael Scirrotto (Harry/The Jury) is a seasoned performer with extensive experience in both national and regional theater productions. He has appeared in various plays, including Camelot at Lincoln Center in New York, as well as A Chorus Line and West Side Story on national tours. Scirrotto's talents have also been showcased in regional productions at notable theaters such as Paper Mill, Goodspeed, Barrington Stage, Maltz, and Northern Stage. He is a proud graduate of Dreyfoos SOA and New World SOA, where he honed his craft and developed his passion for performing.

Here’s what Michael has to share about his mother Beth: "My mother was not the stay-at-home type. She was a successful school teacher committed to her students, even outside work hours. In short, she was busy. A memory of her and the theater that always stays with me was the time I was cast in the musical Mame at the local community playhouse. I was around 12 years old. You must understand my mother to know she was not the 'stage mom' type. What is so unique is that she took the time out of her busy schedule as a working mother to become a backstage dresser. She cheered me on at every rehearsal and performance while working very hard in the wings with one quick change after another for the lead actress. She even enjoyed going to the cast parties. Seeing the theater community wrap their arms around her was pivotal. The cast beloved her, but most importantly, me, her son. I have never been so proud to call her my mom. I will always remember that moment in time.”

Jessica Ernest (Go-To-Hell Kitty) is an actress with an impressive resume in the world of theater. She has appeared on Broadway in the hit musical Chicago and has toured nationally in The Producers as Ulla. Jessica's talent has also taken her to various regional theaters, including ATP, MTWest, Musicals Tonight, Moonlight, 3DTheatricals, and Jubilee! She holds a BFA from Point Park University and is not just a skilled performer, but also an outdoor adventurer, watercolor artist, and novice ukulele player.

Here’s what Jessica had to about her mother Jennifer: "Growing up, my mother would make my costumes for every theatre production I was in. From a beautiful Snow White dress with matching headband to the 'Sound of Music' curtain outfits (for me AND my brother) to custom red cowgirl boots for 'Footloose'. She has always gone above and beyond for me, and I knew I was going to be the best dressed!”

Drew Nellessen (Baliff/Court Clerk) is a talented performer known for his roles in Chicago and West Side Story on Broadway and tours. He has also appeared in productions at Kennedy, Goodspeed, Sacramento, Goodman, and Muny theaters. Additionally, he has made appearances on TV shows such as "General Hospital.” 

Here is what Drew had to share about his mother Ann: "My mom loved Chicago. She loved coming to the show. She loved waiting outside and seeing all the people that 'spent a great deal of money to see MY kid up there.' She saw the show over 30 times and every time would talk about something new she noticed. She would hug me, and with tears in her eyes say, 'I'm so proud of you, I don't know where you came from'. Every.single.time. The last time she ever saw me perform was on the TV when we were on Good Morning America celebrating the return of Broadway and our show after the pandemic. She was in a hospital bed fighting cancer that inevitably took her life 3 days later. In hospice, my family would play the video for her, and until her dying moment, she would perk up just a bit when she heard the music, and the smallest glimpse of a smile would emerge from the very corner of her mouth. I now blow her a kiss every show during overture because I know she now gets to watch every performance. Gives new meaning to the lyrics, 'but oh it's heaven nowadays,' right?”

Rachel Schur (Annie) is delighted to be part of the cellblock in Chicago. She has previously appeared on Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago and as Francine in Jersey Boys. Schur has also toured with Fame!, A Chorus Line as Val, and Jersey Boys. In addition to her stage work, she has appeared on Law and Order: SVU, Mozart In the Jungle, and Funny or Die.

Here is what Rachel had to share about her mother Jody: "I grew up in my mom's dance studio. She was my first introduction to ballet and the fantastical world of Fosse. She claims I knew the entire score of Pippin when I was two by heart. When I booked Chicago, it felt like all of those little moments with her, dancing in the studio, listening to the soundtrack, dreaming together all played in my mind like a movie montage, and it's something that still plays to this day five years later. What a dream to share this with her!”

Kimberly Marable (Velma Kelly) brings her Broadway experience to the cellblock with absolute excitement! She has graced the stages of HadesTown, (OBC), The Lion King, and Sister Act on Broadway, and toured nationally and internationally with Hadestown, The Book of Mormon, Sister Act, DreamGirls, Hairspray, and The Wedding Singer. 

TV credits include CBS' FBI & BULL, Netflix Anime’s CANNON BUSTERS, or NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series. Kimberly co-founded Broadway Serves and serves as the Eastern Co-Chair on the Advisory Committee for the Entertainment Community Fund’s Looking Ahead program. She's also on the Board of Trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Love to Fam, CLA Partners, and MA. 

Here’s what Kimberly had to share about her mother Joan: "The timing of this story is kind of funny because my brother just unearthed a photo of my mother and me backstage at a production of Black Nativity at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. She was one of the volunteer make-up artists and I was the 'Joy to the World' soloist. The truth of the matter though my heart forever. She was so proud of me and that made the experience all the more special. My mom has always been my biggest supporter and inspiration, and I'm grateful for all the sacrifices she's made to help me pursue my dreams.”

To learn more about the musical ---

No comments:

Post a Comment