OUTvoices overlay navmenu

Discover Your City

By Richard Schultz, March 12, 2015.

Since 2007, Adam Pellegrine (pictured) has toured off and on in the sleek version of the Broadway musical Chicago. He's part of the current tour's sexy ensemble, that's bumping and grinding its way across the nation with numerous sell-out performances.

The story follows murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, who find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, Chicago is the No. 1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history and is now in its 19th year on Broadway. The original Broadway production opened in 1975. The 1997 revival won six Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. The 2002 film, directed by Rob Marshall, won four Oscars and starred Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.

With such an impressive history, Pellegrine, who portrays Harry and prosecutor Martin Harrison, is having the time of his life in a production he describes as “smart, sexy and sleek."

Pellegrine grew up in rural Alabama, outside of Birmingham, was influenced by his uncle who was a professional dancer on the television show “HeeHaw." His mom rented performance-themed movies from the local library to introduce him to the arts. After high school, where he performed in shows, he graduated from the University of Alabama with a double major in theatre and dance. During his senior year, he was cast in an off-Broadway show and finished his degrees online. A cruise ship job followed and he eventually relocated to Los Angeles.

Echo chatted with him while the tour was in Naples, Fla., and here's what he had to say about taking the stage in Chicago.

How's the Chicago tour going?

Pellegrine: The tour is going very well. We just played Buffalo, which was unbelievably cold, but we saw near capacity audiences. It is such a cool and terrific piece of theatre. We break the fourth wall. Every night is new show where the audience is the additional cast member. The onstage interaction is always dynamic.

Some nights you find something new that is dirtier, grittier and sexier.

Echo: Tell us about the characters that you portray?

Pellegrine: Chicago is the definitive triple threat show. Everyone sings, dances and plays roles. I play Harry who is a good-time guy in a relationship with Go to Hell Kitty. He's a big horny lug of a guy. I also play Harrison who is the prosecutor that is out to get Roxie and Thelma. He doesn't buy Roxie's act.

Echo: What has being part of the show meant for you?

Pellegrine: I have had amazing opportunities to travel. In 2009, we went to Bangkok for a month. It was my first excursion into Asia, where the culture is so bright and vivid. And the audiences are so very vocal in their reaction. They loved the show!

Echo: What is your favorite part the show?

Pellegrine: It really depends on the specific performance. It's certainly memorable during the Roxie number when she says, “I'm going to get me a bunch of boys." All the boys come onstage and the audience goes wild.

Echo: Have you toured to Phoenix before?

Pellegrine: One of my fondest memories comes from the time when I was in the national tour of Urban Cowboy and we played Phoenix. We were following the rodeo circuit, which brought us to Phoenix. It was a loud raucous party onstage, which continued after the final bow. One of the crewmembers mentioned that Chita Rivera was also in Phoenix touring in her show, The Dancer's Life. I dashed off in my pajamas to the stage door and convinced the doorman to let me in. I met her daughter and then met Chita, who is an idol of mine. She was so sweet and generous with her time. She shared insights on having a career: Never give up; train, train, train; and always believe in yourself. Her advice has stayed with me and had an enormous impact as I continue to pursue my career and dreams.

Echo: Speaking of dreams, what roles are on your wish list?

Pellegrine: I would definitely like to play the master of ceremonies in Cabaret. It's a great story with an enduring message. Also, I want to play the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.

Keep reading Show less

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

10 LGBTQ+ Movies on Amazon Prime You Need to Watch

OUTvoices may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.
Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

LGBTQ+ Movies on Amazon Prime


Keep reading Show less

Transgender Sign in Pride Parade



Keep reading Show less