By Alexis Kominos
Lights! Camera! Action—and all that jazz! During the last four days of March, Glenelg High School’s Theater Department put on a spectacular performance of Chicago in the high school’s auditorium. From flapper dresses and jazz to murder and adultery, Chicago had it all. The play was based on the true story of two murderesses competing for fame and manipulating their way out of the imminent demise they faced from their crimes.
The show Chicago has been around for forever. It’s origins lie with reporter and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins, a woman who covered the trials of two convicted murderers: Roxie and Velma. Around the era of the 20’s, it was absurd to hear about murder cases committed by women. Thus, Roxie and Velma gained so much publicity from their actions. Watkins’ columns on the trials gained a lot of recognition, so eventually she decided to write a play on the story. The show soon made it onto Broadway in 1926.
In the 1960’s, musician Gwen Verdon read the play and asked her husband, Bob Fosse, if they could create a musical version. After trying to buy the rights to he play, Watkins eventually agreed. Chicago went very big and gained immense popularity throughout time. The whole production was a great success and continues to be till this day. Due to the popularity, the story of Chicago spread around and eventually Glenelg High School decided to perform it themselves.
The Glenelg Theater Department brought many aspects of the roaring 20’s to life in their rendition of Chicago, including the court case of Velma and Roxie and the scandals they were apart of. As the show went on, the audience witnessed murder, adultery, dancing, and singing. All the actors and actresses participating in the play spent many long hours perfecting the performance. The leads in the play had the challenge of singing and memorizing a tremendous amount of lines in a short period of time. The background actors spent countless hours learning choreography and making sure there were no errors. Along with Ms. Sharp, the cast also assisted in new ideas for the play; many of which were added into the final performance.
Glenelg’s theater teacher Ms. Kassidy Sharp directed the play, and made sure everything was up to par. When asked to comment on her experience directing this play, stated, “I’m incredibly proud of this production. All of the cast worked extremely hard to make this show a success. We turned 68 students into dancers, actors, and singers. This has been my favorite show to direct on the Glenelg stage.” Directing and acting in Chicago was a great experience for everyone. All the main characters (including Seniors Delaney Smith, Mary Mae Robinson, Collin Finnan, Carson Payne) did a fantastic job making sure the play was the best it could possibly have been.
The whole cast was more than just a group of actors working together—they described themselves as a family. Mili Jovanovic, a Junior and foreign exchange student at Glenelg High school, talked about her experience by saying, “Being in Chicago was magical. I connected with so many wonderful people that are now many of my closest friends! I played Hunyak in the play and I had a death scene. It was the ultimate trust challenge as I had to trust that the people standing behind me were really going to catch me. Not once did they let me fall.”
Delaney Smith, a Glenelg Senior who played lead character Velma Kelly, said, “I am really happy that I got to do Chicago as my last show in high school, and possibly ever. This was my 6th show at Glenelg and my first major role. Playing Velma Kelly felt like a perfect fit for me and I am so honored to have worked with such amazing actors.” Based on her statement, it is clear that everyone in the play made close connections with one another. The process of perfecting things may have taken countless days, but it therefore created bonds that were that much stronger.
Along with the greatly prepared acting and singing, the costumes and set were cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Almost everyone on stage wore black outfits with fishnets and mesh. The characters in the play got to chose their own outfits with teacher consent, but decided to use all black clothing and white props to make sure that the audience could focus more on the play itself. The only props that were not white were red cloths and roses that helped to symbolize characters who were guilty of murder. Additionally, the set was detailed and professional looking, especially because Ms. Sharp’s father built the set through his company, KNJ Construction. The use of cool-colored, gradient lighting also really drew the audience in.
Various members of the audience claimed that Chicago was one the best performances they had ever seen Glenelg put on. Although plays in the past have undoubtedly been amazing as well, Chicago set a new precedent for the magic of Glenelg’s theater department that they will strive to upload for years to come. When asked about the performance, Glenelg Junior Molly Dustin stated, “I really enjoy seeing all the plays at school, but Chicago was definitely my favorite. There was something about it that made it really unforgettable and it was also so professionally done. I would go see it again if I had the chance.”
The roaring 20’s. The spotlight. The fringe. The booze. And most importantly, the murder. Glenelg High School did an amazing job putting together this performance. It really made an impact with the viewers and stuck with people. Chicago was definitely a performance that will go down in the books.