Drama prepares for fall production of ‘Chicago’

By Kali Klusaritz

The roaring ‘20s will come to life with song and dance this November when the CHS drama department presents the musical Chicago, a satire on the corruption of the criminal justice system of the era as exposed by two headline-hunting celebrity criminals. 

The cast is comprised mostly of CHS juniors and seniors and features songs and adapted dance routines from the hit broadway musical.  The story centers around a shameless, publicity-seeking vaudevillian Velma Kelly (senior Ashley Austin) and equally brash chorus girl Roxie Hart (junior Alex Levenson), who end up in jail on murder charges. Enlisting legal assistance from the same slippery lawyer, Billy Flynn (senior Steven Rigaux), each tries to out-maneuver the other as they both attempt to capitalize on pre-trial publicity to jump start their failing stage careers.   

Senior Thalia Ertman and juniors Ryan Kanfer, Josh Kaufman and Ariana Nasseri are featured as lead dancers in the production and are working to choreograph numbers on their own for the featured dancers and the entire ensemble.

“We have a wonderful choreographer, Nancy Newall, and she’s giving all the lead dancers amazing opportunities to help with choreography,” Ertman said. “She’s given us whole numbers to choreograph on our own and she just supervises, making sure our visions will be okay onstage.”

Drama director Jessica Speck is overseeing the production timeline which began in mid-September.  Character meetings, read throughs, sing throughs and dress rehearsals are a few of the daily after school activities required to make the production a success. 

“I’ve been trying to do [Chicago] for six years,” said Speck. “I love the music and it has amazing parts for female actors. It’s an amazing show with lots of spectacle, and the characters are hilarious.”

With the first performance coming up in November, the cast and crew are hard at work rehearsing and preparing for opening night.

“A lot of work goes into it, and it’s not just rehearsals,” said Speck. “[Music teacher] Kristofer Sanz is the conductor, [bridge teacher] Jeff Wolf is in charge of props, [bridge teacher] Sheri Phillips is in charge of the tech crew and four other adults are helping out with costume design and choreography.”

While the rehearsal schedule is rigorous and time consuming, the students are dedicated and enjoy putting on a show.

“Even though it’s work, it’s fun work,” Levenson said. “You love what you’re doing and you get to meet all these nice and cool people in the cast, on tech and band.”

Tickets are on sale now at www.wchsdrama.org for performances that are scheduled on Fri. Nov.13 at 7:30 p.m., Sat. Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Fri. Nov. 20th at 7:30 p.m. and Sat. Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. 

“[Students] can expect a wicked awesome show,” Ertman said. “There is so much talent in our school that the show is sure to be a sight to see.”