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The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

“Chicago” dazzles despite challenging material

Cast of “Chicago” displayed their talent through difficult songs and choreography.

You heard it here first folks: it wasn’t just good, grand, great or even swell—“Chicago” was phenomenal.

From Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, students gave us the ol’ razzle dazzle through an impressive display of singing, dancing and acting in the Performing Arts Department’s lively rendition of the musical “Chicago.”

Based on Maurine Dallas Watkins’ 1926 play, the risqué show takes place in Roaring ‘20s Chicago, following wannabe star Roxie Hart (junior Laura Araújo). After killing her lover in a deceit infused rage, Hart is shipped off to Cook County Jail. There, she meets corrupt Matron Mama Morton (senior Christa Washburn), murderous jazz performer Velma Kelly (sophomore Audrey Navarette) and charismatic lawyer, Billy Flynn (senior John Watson).

Notorious for its rigorous choreography and vocally demanding songs, “Chicago” is difficult to live up to. Even so, the well-timed choreography coupled with beautiful harmonies made the collective cast’s talent evident.

Despite technical difficulties during the first half of the show, a song I found both flawless in audio quality and execution was “Cell Block Tango.” The song follows six prisoners a.k.a, the “Six Merry Murderesses,” who give Roxie a taste of Cook County while telling ironic stories of the crimes they committed.

Everyone danced and sang phenomenally, but the hilarious delivery throughout each of their respective monologues stood out to me the most. The audience roared with laughter as June/Squish (junior Ivy Bass) exclaimed, “He ran into my knife! He ran into my knife ten times!”

There were a number of notable performances in the show, however. Navarette’s rendition of Kelly was consistently breathtaking. In songs like “I Can’t Do It Alone” and “All That Jazz,” she displayed impressive levels of physical and vocal stamina. As she tap danced and belted across the stage while still imbuing her performance with so much character, I was infinitely impressed. She was a star.

Another standout performer was Washburn as Morton. While Washburn’s character had limited stage time, they made an impact in every scene they were in, radiating confidence and sass. I was blown away by the last note they held during “When You’re Good To Mama.”

The song “We Both Reached For the Gun,” a personal favorite of mine from the original show, was one I came in having high hopes for. I’m glad to say I was not disappointed. The ensemble surrounding Hart and Flynn, all meant to emulate puppets, were highly coordinated and cleanly weaving around one another as their heads bobbed in unison.

The pace really picked up during the second act. Not only were the songs more climactic, but characters also had more personal and emotional scenes. This was best portrayed during Roxie’s pathetic husband, Amos Hart’s (senior Nathan Ives) solo. While during the first act Ives received several laughs for his ridiculous demeanor and self-pitying jokes, his heartbreaking rendition of “Mr. Cellophane” received quite the opposite reaction. The vulnerability of his performance nearly brought me to tears.

As the show came to a climax, I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout “Razzle Dazzle.” While the song began with Flynn and Hart singing in front of the curtain, I knew the song would be a standout when a performer came onstage and began juggling.

Flynn, portrayed by Watson, dazzled me with his immense stage presence and glittery red vest. His uniquely flamboyant spin on the stereotypical, overly masculine Flynn especially shone during this song.

While one of the best parts of “Razzle Dazzle” was the sparkly costumes, I admit that outside of this song, I was disappointed by the costuming. Such a vibrant show from such an iconic time period required equally matched costumes, hair and makeup. The majority of the costumes were plain, with most of the ensemble wearing black leotards, athletic shorts, and no accessories.

My biggest issue with the show was the handling of its subject matter. “Chicago,” a show known for its air of sexuality, does not translate well when you mix in high schoolers. I found that the tone of the show felt awkward for the audience and performers in songs like “All I Care About” and “Roxie.” While the director definitely made the right choice by not over sexualizing the performers, I think this caused certain jokes and scenes to fall flat.

Nonetheless, “Chicago” was a thrilling show full of talented performers.

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    johnFeb 6, 2024 at 2:26 pm

    honeyyyy the vest was gold <3