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Free stage tours give sneak peek at upcoming GTA productions

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Jim Hammond, second from right, works with the cast of "Chicago." The Gainesville Theatre Alliance will present both "Chicago" and "The Glass Menagerie" during February.

From tap-dancing flapper girls to Southern melodrama, the Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA) will present two Broadway classics in February and offers a free, behind-the-scenes tour of each production.

GTA, a nationally-acclaimed collaboration between the University of North Georgia (UNG), Brenau University, theatre professionals and the northeast Georgia community, will present "Chicago" Feb. 11-26 and "The Glass Menagerie" Feb. 13-22.

On Jan. 28, cast and crew will take you behind the scenes of "Chicago," a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz that features one show-stopping song after another. The free stage show, which begins at 6 p.m., and performances will be at Brenau University's Hosch Theatre, 429 Academy Blvd. in Gainesville. The production is rated PG-15.

During the "Chicago" stage tour, director Jim Hammond will talk about the challenges of performing this well-known dance classic, which is the longest-running revival on Broadway. Hammond is in his 23rd year as artistic and managing director of GTA and was one of the first graduates of the program, which has been entertaining north Georgia patrons since 1979.

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the Tony-award winning show tells the tale of murder suspects Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly, their tap dancing, "spin doctor" of a lawyer, Billy Flynn, and a colorful cast of jailhouse girls. Choreographed by the renowned Bob Fosse, the original production opened in 1975 and ran for 936 performances until 1977. It was revived in 1996 and holds the record for the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, having played more than 6,700 performances.

On Jan. 30, the designers for GTA's production of the Tennessee Williams classic "The Glass Menagerie" will talk about set, costume and light design. The free stage show, which beings at 6 p.m., and performances will be at the Ed Cabell Theatre on UNG's Gainesville Campus, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood.

"The Glass Menagerie" launched the career of pre-eminent lyric playwright Tennessee Williams and tells the story of Amanda Wingfield, who struggles in desperation to provide her fragile daughter with at least one "gentleman caller." An exquisite family drama filtered through the memory of her son, Tom, the play continues to be one of the most frequently studied and staged plays around the world.

"Chicago" opens on Feb. 11 and runs through Feb. 22, including evening shows and Sunday matinees; a free opening night reception will be held after the 7:30 p.m. show. Ticket prices are $22-24 for adults, $20-22 for seniors and $12-14 for students, depending on seat location.

"The Glass Menagerie" opens on Feb. 14 and continues through Feb. 22, including evening shows and Sunday matinees. A special preview performance is set for Feb. 13, with tickets only $8. A special audio-described performance for the visually impaired will be offered at the 2:30 show on Feb. 22.

Patrons can select and purchase seats for either show on the website, www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org, or by calling the GTA Box Office at 678-717-3624, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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