Theatre executes a killer rendition of ‘Chicago’

Angela Anello and featured dancers perform “All That Jazz”. The role of Velma was double-cast with Lea Staller. Courtesy of Donna Anello

AT theatre chose “Chicago” as the winter musical from February 9 to February 11. While the idea of a high school performing such a heavy musical initially turned a few heads, AT was able to pull it off flawlessly. Some modifications were required to make Chicago a more school-friendly viewing experience, but the essence of the musical was not lost.

Anna McSweeney, head of theater and the head director of the production said, “We often look at our student population, we listen to their opinions about shows they are interested in, and we look at what we could do to create a well-balanced theatre education. It’s a show that was recently released as a teen edition, which makes it much easier to produce.”

The production included a lengthy audition process, so the directors could achieve a great understanding of student abilities.

“All students were given two options for songs, and they were asked to submit a video audition.  Then, they were asked to come to an in-person dance audition where they were taught several 8-counts of dance and asked to perform in groups,” said McSweeney. “Then, we called back students that we wanted to see more and give some direction. I gave them different scenes from the musical. Ultimately, we looked at the audition and who showed the best character, made bold choices, and listened to the direction given.”

The weeks leading up to the opening day were hectic for everyone involved. A massive amount of effort was put in by both the crew and the cast members to perfect the production. Costumes, lights, dancing, singing, and way more were contributed to make the production a masterpiece.

Alex Merts and featured dancers perform “Me And My Baby.” The role of Roxie was double-cast with Alexandra Marcinkowski. Courtesy of Donna Anello

“I am really pleased with how well our doubles are working together to build each other up.  It’s such a positive experience for me, and I think the students,” said McSweeney. “They are working so hard to make each other look good.  I also think the cast is working well together and everyone is being pushed out of their comfort zone whether through singing, dancing, or acting.”

A lot of work also went into fleshing out the era Chicago is based in, the 1920s.

LeVonne Cescolini, head of dance said, “I have many favorite parts because we have such an amazing group of talented students, but I would have to say the time period – I love the dancing, music, and clothes of this time period.  All three of these came alive throughout the whole musical.” 

The stage design had some unique choices. One of these choices was placing the pit musicians on the back center stage, rather than being below the stage as is normally done.

“So, we always look at a lot of other set designs/pictures, and we wanted to keep the set simple.  We liked the idea of creating a cabaret jazz club, which is why the pit was on stage,” told McSweeney.

Whether you consider Chicago to be one of your favorites of AT theatre productions or not, it is without a doubt it is one of AT’s best shows. The students put forth a ton of effort, and that effort has been well received by both students, staff, and the town of Addison. The turnout for the production was great, they sold a total of 1719 tickets over the four shows.

“It was by far one of the more difficult shows I have done, and I am really proud of the work all students and staff put into it. I think it was by far one of the better shows,” said McSweeney.

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