The Blair Academy Players presented Chicago (High School Edition) by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse, John Kander and Maurine Dallas Watkins on February 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre.
One of the longest running shows in Broadway history, the musical’s revival is set in roaring-twenties Chicago. Chorine Roxie Hart (Alex Kirby ’20) murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband, Amos (portrayed by Robbie Donnelly ’20), to take the rap, until he finds out he’s been duped and turns on Roxie. Arrested and sent to a women’s prison, Roxie meets another “Merry Murderess,” Velma Kelly (played by Audrey Sacks ’20), who competes with her for the spotlight and the headlines. Advised by prison matron Mama (Olivia McLaine ’20), Roxie hires Chicago’s best defense attorney, Billy Flynn (portrayed by Ryan Gomez ’20). The trial takes many dramatic twists and turns, musically putting the spotlight on the thin line between fame and notoriety in America.
The play’s first line sums up the plot: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery. All those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”
For members of the cast, one of the best parts of being in the musical was the camaraderie and close relationships developed as part of the experience. “It is so much fun to get to sing and dance with such a great group of people and to strengthen the bonds you have with one another,” Audrey said. “This cast and our directors have put in a lot of time and effort this winter to bring this story to life. We’ve been working super hard to make this show great, and we hope as many of you come see Chicago as possible!”
Calling the musical a Broadway classic, director and veteran faculty member Craig Evans noted that the topics upon which it touched are more relevant than ever, despite the plot being set a century ago.
“Kander and Ebb wrote the musical Cabaret, so they have a really magical feel for early 20th-century music,” he said. “Bob Fosse’s contribution is evident in the choreography being front-and-center of both shows. Chicago’s popularity only grew when the motion picture version won the Best Movie Academy Award. The power of the press and the manipulation of public opinion are certainly issues for our own time and not just 1920s Chicago.”