With accolades such as Broadway World describing Logan Floyd’s performance as a “tour de force,” it’s easy to overlook the fact that this is the “Chicago” star’s very first national tour. Running through Sunday at the Fox Theatre, Floyd plays Velma Kelly in the much-awaited production celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kander and Ebb scored, Bob Fosse Broadway musical’s critically acclaimed 1996 revival.
While in college in 2016 and with a brother living in Roswell, Floyd decided their idea of a relaxing summer vacation was playing Cinderella in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods” at Performer’s Warehouse in Alpharetta (“I’ll be honest,” laughs Floyd, “that was a tricky one to learn!”). In 2020, after landing their big break cast as the incomparable Velma Kelly, just 16 performances into the national tour of “Chicago,” Velma, Roxie and Floyd’s inaugural national tour were all tossed in the COVID slammer together — for two long years. That’s why Floyd is especially excited to be back in Atlanta, debuting on the Fox Theatre stage this weekend at long last.
Here’s our Q&A with the talented triple threat, edited for length and clarity.
Q: What were some of the challenges getting this show back up and running after lockdown?
A: When we started rehearsing, I called it “Chicago” boot camp (laughs). We had to put the show up in less than three weeks. Along with a few other people, I also got COVID in the middle of rehearsal so I had maybe nine days of rehearsal before we opened the show. The challenges were definitely there but it was also exhilarating!
Q: The female leads in this show have been played by such legends as Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking and then, of course, the 2002 film with Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger. How did you go about finding your Velma?
A: Incredible women have filled the shoes of Velma Kelly. I’ve been lucky to be able to see people like Lana Gordon and Amra-Faye Wright in the role. Back in 2019, Amra-Faye actually came to one of our final rehearsals and there I was singing those songs and she’s about three feet in front of me! I was definitely star struck. Finding my Velma, I was deeply inspired by Bebe Neuwirth. The creative team even gave me a wig that was also inspired by Bebe Neuwirth. It’s a black, spiky, pixie cut wig and it’s gelled to the nine’s! It’s that humor and playfulness and how grounded she made Velma. I was really inspired by marrying the humor, wit and playfulness with intelligence, drive and perseverance. Those things came from Bebe and also watching Amra-Faye play this role.
Q: You come out right at the top of this show and do “All That Jazz,” one of the biggest numbers in Broadway history. How does it feel each night to get to open the show with that?
A: If I’m being completely honest, it’s overwhelming. I can’t really let it sink in or I would get emotional onstage. But when I pop up those stairs and I start “All That Jazz” and the audience reacts, it’s chilling. The Fox Theatre is the biggest theatre I’ve ever stepped foot in so this is an incredible experience for me.
Q: “Chicago” started as a stage play written in the 1920s by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a woman court reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Women are in this show’s DNA. How is the show’s female empowerment theme playing to audiences in this moment?
A: What’s really special about “Chicago” is that it was created by Bob Fosse and the incredible women he surrounded himself with, like Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking. He writes women in a very special way. It was before his time. It’s also a testament to Verdon and Rivera, who created Velma and Roxy. Velma is such a strong female lead, rather than a victim. What’s been really interesting for me as someone who identifies as nonbinary, is playing this female-identifying character and a very feminine one. The heels, the dresses, the red lipstick and the red veils! I personally don’t even own a pair of heels. So to play this ultra-female character has been a special opportunity for me as an actor. To get to experiment with gender as part of my acting journey has been great.
Q: As a member of the media, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how this show also resonates right now because of how it portrays the press. It’s reminding us that the more things change, the more they stay the same, isn’t it?
A: That’s why this show hasn’t stopped since [it was revived in] 1996. Unfortunately, so much of it is still so relevant. Each year, it becomes more and more so. The spectacle of the celebrity criminal and how someone is treated in the justice system, based on what kind of coverage they’re getting in the media, it stays relevant with our culture in all kinds of different ways. It points back to our society.
Q: The 2002 film version of “Chicago” exposed a lot of people to this show for the first time. Did the film create an appetite for audiences to want to seek out the live musical?
A: Absolutely. Every time I say the word “Chicago,” I get one or two people who ask how it compares to the film. Is it the same show? Yes. The movie is more accessible and it’s a terrific way to introduce the show to people. The movie might lean a little heavier into the dark parts of the dark comedy. In the musical, you can see the elements of vaudeville and the influences of the 1920s and the influences of Bob Fosse, especially.
Q: In an industry that loves to slap labels on things, as a nonbinary actor, can you talk a little about your journey and if you see things getting easier or harder?
A: We’re slowly moving in a great direction. I can’t speak for every nonbinary performer but for me, I really seek out opportunities that emphasis storytelling. What is the story we’re trying to tell onstage or onscreen? In my profession, when an audition notice comes out, it’s called a “breakdown.” When I was starting out, I used to see character name and then “male” or character name and “female.” And now, we’re seeing that language change. I would also love to see the character’s name followed by the story they’re supposed to tell in whatever form that is. I want to keep pushing in that direction.
Q: This is a bit like asking you to pick your favorite child since Velma is onstage for so much of “Chicago,” but do you have any favorite moments you look forward to each night?
A: One of my favorite moments is “My Own Best Friend” at the end of Act One. It’s a gorgeous example of characters seeing an obstacle and immediately persevering. These two women deciding to persevere and take a step and then another step past that obstacle. It’s not about jealousy between them or a cat fight. It’s really about getting what they want. It’s about strength and resilience with a little bit of humor.
The Broadway in Atlanta production of “Chicago” runs Friday-Sunday, Oct. 21-23 at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. For tickets or more info, go to the Fox Theatre website.
Richard L. Eldredge is the founder and editor in chief of Eldredge ATL. As a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta magazine, he has covered Atlanta since 1990.