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Arts and Entertainment

‘Chicago’ comes to Charlotte
Q & A with Kecia Lewis-Evans
Published Friday, September 28, 2012 12:57 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett


The Broadway musical “Chicago” is loosely based on the true story of two women who murder their significant others and parlay their fame and notoriety into careers in the entertainment industry.

Kecia Lewis-Evans stars in 'Chicago' Oct. 2-3 at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts.

The stage play, one of the longest running shows in Broadway history, is making a two-night stop in Charlotte Oct. 2-3 at Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts (430 S. Tryon St).

The Post recently caught up with one of the stars of the show, New York City native Kecia Lewis-Evans. In the following Q & A, Evans shares her thoughts on what has made the play such a success and how she deals with constantly being cast in the role of the “mama.”

Q: “Chicago” is set in the 1920s and is one of the longest running Broadway shows. Why do you think it has been so successful for so long?

Evans: The show is very timely… It talks about many of the issues that we still deal with today, such as people using anything and everything to become famous and feed their hunger for fame and notoriety doing all kinds of under-handed and evil things.”

Q: What can audiences expect from “Chicago?”

A very entertaining and timely piece that looks at the darker side of our society but that is done in a very entertaining way. Hopefully, it will make people think and we can laugh at it and with it and see ourselves in it.

I would also say that it is questionable whether “Chicago” is a show for kids. So think twice before you bring your kids. There are adult themes, but I think people will really enjoy it. We have a great cast.

Q: Can you tell us about the character you play?

Evans: I play the character of Matron “Mama” Morton, who I guess you could say is kind of the warden of the prison that both of the ladies are in. She is an interesting character. I enjoy playing her because on the one hand, she is kind of the mother hen of all the women in the prison. But she also uses her position to take advantage of the women and make money… She makes sure that her pockets get lined.

Q: Are there any similarities between you and your character?

Evans: Probably the only one would be the motherly aspect. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always had a tendency to be kind of a mother figure to the people that I am around… Most of the people on the show call me “Mama” off stage. It’s a combination of the name of the character I play and kind of who I am to them on some level.

That’s kind of been a bit of a constant in my career. I tend to play “mama” roles… I have struggled with that in my life and have finally just come to accept it. I’m just “Mama” and always have been.

Q: What is it about playing such roles that you struggled with?

Evans: I struggled with just the idea that people saw me that way. Fortunately for me, the “mama” roles have all been powerful ones, not the stereotypical “mammy” roles….

In that regard, that hasn’t bothered me. What has bothered me is that I tend to not be seen in any other way. What I try to do is when I get cast, first of all, I have to embrace that this is a part of my personality and that it is what people see. I also try to find some other colors within the mama role. For example, when I play Mama Morton, [people have] told [me] that she’s probably the sexiest mama that they’ve ever seen.

I’m a bigger lady, a more voluptuous lady, so I try to give you a little more sexuality with her.

Q: How did you get your start in theatre?

Evans: I’ve always wanted to act since I was a little girl. I went to the High School of Performing Arts in New York. That was kind of the beginning of me getting my training. I then went to NYU. While I was at NYU in the theater department, I started auditioning, and I got my first Broadway show when I was 18. I played Effie in “Dream Girls.” I was the last of the original Broadway cast’s Effie.

For more information about “Chicago,” visit www.BlumenthalArts.org or call (704) 372-1000.



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