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INTERVIEW:  Todd Buonopane from the National Broadway Tour of Chicago
By Henri Gutierrez

    The six merry murderesses from the Cook CountyJail will be detained in Austin this week.   The National Tour of Broadway’s longest-running American musical, Chicago, will be performing this week at Bass Concert Hall from November 19th through 24th as part of the 2013-14 Broadway Austin Series.
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    With the original production opening in 1975, and the current revival opening in 1996, the Tony Award-winning musical has never lost its relevance, bringing to light the importance and celebrity that society lavishes on criminals. Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly may not be the first “celebrity criminals,” nor the last, but their “acts of desperation” continue to entertain audiences nightly.
   One of the newest additions to the Chicago family - Todd Buonopane, who plays “Amos Hart “- will be traveling with the current production and breathing life into the musical theatre standard “Mr. Cellophane.”
   “I am the newest principle on the show,” Buonopane told Austin On Stage Magazine. “This tour started in August and that’s when I started with the show. Most everyone else have been with the show for a while - which is great, because they bring the history with it.”
  While Buonopane’s first love is theater, he is probably best known for his roles in television shows such as ABC's Grey's Anatomy and NBC's 30 Rock.
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    “Theater is my first love; I kind of fell into TV,” he said. “They are completely different mediums. It's such a different skill. I'd kind of taken a break from theater, but now that I’m back in theater, there's nothing like getting an audience reaction.”
    Buonopane's addition to Chicago was a dream casting project for him.
    “I’ve always wanted to be in this show,” he said.  “Chicago was some how ahead of its time, and it's a role I've always wanted to play.
     “It's a very rewarding role - I get to watch people on stage do the craziest stuff,” he said. “When I’m not on stage, I’m singing along with everything.   It’s such an amazing show to be a part of.”
    “Amos is basically the poor sap that can't get over the fact that this beautiful woman married him,” Buonopane said, describing his character. “Amos is forced into being the clown of the show. He's the saddest person in the show, but he's hilarious. He's the only character that really changes through out the show. There's hope that he’s grown a few, and is going on to something better.”
    If this National Tour is audiences’ first time to see Chicago come to life on stage, but they are familiar with the Academy Award-winning film starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Buonopane suggests not to compare.
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     He notes that in the film adaptation, the musical numbers are performed as part of a fantasy in Roxy Harts subconscious, as apposed to the stage version, which is more vaudeville.
    “Chicago is this big giant vaudeville - we're telling a story, but were putting on a show,” he said “The movie is awesome. Most musicals made into movies don't work out very well, but this one worked out really well. Movies have to live in a reality than plays don't.”
    Another notable character, played by Richard Gere in the film adaptation, is the role of “Billy Flynn.”  The smooth-talking lawyer will be portrayed during the Austin performances by television personality John O'Hurley, well-known from Seinfeld and Dancing With The Stars.
    “He is awesome,” Buonopane says of his co-star. “He's the TV star in our show. He is a true comedian, and people won't believe how well he sings!”

Chicago runs November 19th through 24th at the Bass Concert Hall, with performances on Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Tickets are be available by phone at (512) 477-6060, at the Bass Concert Hall box office, located at 2350 Robert Dedman Drive, or by visiting www.BroadwayinAustin.com.

(Photos: Chicago logo [top] courtesy Broadway Across America; Todd Buonopane photo [middle] courtesy NYCLU.org; John O’Hurley photo courtesy Chicago Publicity)
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