“Chicago”, a compelling, energetic and powerful Broadway musical originally performed in 1996, is the story of fame, fortune and all that jazz. It tells the story of Velma and the murder of her husband, while Chicago’s best lawyer, Billy Flynn, is set to defend her. However, things take a turn when Roxie, another main character, also winds up in prison, and Billy agrees to take on her case, causing major buzz from media outlets all over the city. This year, the Heritage’s Fine Arts department brings Chicago in the same compelling light with their senior high spring musical.
Actors and actresses started buckling down into the production stages just short of a month ago. After the spring play “Midsummers Night Dream,” students spent every day memorizing lines, songs and dances. Like many other productions, these musicals often require several hours dedicated to memorizing everything every day. With many students being involved in both the spring play and the musical however, after school rehearsals and weekend runs often took up a big part of their days. Not only does the musical showcase over 15 songs, but it also heavily relies on an elaborate set, many wigs and outfits and extravagant dance numbers during each song.
Talking to the cast members gave me a real insider’s look on what it is really like to be a part of a production this big. “The hours really are crazy, especially the week before and of the actual show,” junior Michael Guarasci, who plays Fred Casely, said. “We are here every single day, weekends included. Most rehearsal days we get home around 8:30, while tech week is around 10 and show nights are more or less 11.” This, on top of the work assigned in class, projects that may be due that week and end-of-the-quarter exams eventually do pile up, and many of the actors are faced with long nights and very early mornings. “Sometimes, especially during show week, we have to choose either sleep or finishing our homework for the next day, and even though it is very tiresome, we are here for it.” junior Sam Lynar, who plays Mona in Cell Block Tango, said.
It is obvious that these are not “normal hours,” and many student actors find themselves in a time crunch during this week. Even though it seemed hectic at the time (which was the week before show dates started), I went backstage for the final dress rehearsal on Tuesday, and everything seemed to have clicked. Dancer junior Madison (Maddy) Flanagan said “Everyone has worked so hard on this show, and while we may complain about the hours and the times, Chicago is going to be such an energetic show and I really hope that everyone is paying attention to what is going on. If you’re watching, you’re paying attention and you’re getting the jokes, it is truly such a good show”. The dances were all in-sync, the burlesque-like sign against the set shone bright, and the spotlights illuminated every corner of the stage.
After a long rehearsal, the actors and actresses sang their last song, took their final bows after their final dress rehearsal and waved when the curtains closed. “We have all put so many hours within the past week that I think it will be so worth it,” senior Frederick Bredemyer, who plays Billie Flynn, said. “Sure, we may be exhausted in the end, but working on a show like this, I know it will be worth it.”
All photos courtesy of Catherine Gomez-Thompson