CLARKS SUMMIT — Abington Heights High School will get all jazzed up for the upcoming fall production of “Chicago High School Edition.”
Set in the early age of jazz in the titular city, this musical follows the story of wannabee vaudeville actress Roxie Hart, who, after having an affair with a man named Fred Casely (played by Aiden Snyder), ends up shooting him dead.
“But, fortunately, it lands her with all of this publicity and she winds up being backed by the best lawyer in all of Chicago (Billy Flynn),” said senior Zoe McGlynn, who plays Roxie in the production. “The whole show is her journey progressing, her psyche thinking she is going to be a star.”
McGlynn remembers the 2002 film version of “Chicago.”
“The movie came right around when everyone here was born,” she said. “So everyone grew up with ‘Chicago’ and everyone pretty much had the chance to see it on stage or on the screen. And it’s just a big part of a lot of these people’s lives.”
Playing Billy Flynn, the lawyer who defends Hart as well as many other murderous women, is sophomore Adam Tinkelman.
“I think the most important thing about him (Flynn) is he’s kind of a smarmy businessman,” Tinkelman said. “He treats all of his work kind of like a game.”
Tinkelman said Flynn puts on the charade of caring for his clients but, in reality, is in it for the money and reputation they bring him.
“I love playing Billy Flynn,” he said. “To me, he’s the ideal character to play. He’s just so much fun. I love the suave businessman vibe he gives off. He’s like big city. He knows exactly what he wants to do. On stage, he needs to attract so much confidence and execute so much personality. I think it’s one of the best ways I can play a character.”
Rivaling Hart’s pursuit of fame is Velma Kelly, who becomes one of Flynn’s clients after shooting her husband and sister who were having an affair.
“The whole show is trying to get away with this murder while trying to reclaim her fame through it,” said junior Kylie Schultz, who plays Velma. “But this new girl Roxie came out and tries to gain her fame so they’re trying to battle each other out for the lights and being the star of the show.”
Schultz learned so much from this experience, admitting the choreography is intense and the singing precise.
“The whole experience has been great overall,” she said. “We’re all working really hard to make this as great as it has been proven in the past because this play is very well-known. So, we’re really hoping a lot of people show up.”
Sophomore Makenna Kethely plays the no-nonsense matron of Cook County, where Roxie and Velma land after their acts of murder.
“She’s the mother to all the women in the jail,” she said. “She is very smart and has a lot of confidence. She’s a little jazzy, and she knows what’s business. She knows how to take care of things.”
Kethely thinks being in the play is a good experience.
“I love all the cast members,” she said. “I love learning how to memorize lines and how to dance. Everything about it is very excellent.”
Director and choreographer Nicholas P. Lazor chose to make the production of “Chicago.”
“It was the first real Broadway show that I saw,” he said. “The dance is like the primary method of telling the story.”
Lazor and the cast have been rehearsing since the second week of September. Since one of the cast members is deaf, there will be two sign language interpreters near the stage.
“They’re incredibly hard workers,” Lazor said of the studnets. “They give it their all. They were excited when we announced the show because I think a lot of the students know the show. It’s been on Broadway forever, over 20 years. The movie, I think, is still pretty popular. They (students) were excited to get to do it. I think a lot of them know how much I love it so they were excited to help me bring it to life.”
The producer of “Chicago High School Edition” is John Zachary Monahan. Music director is Dana Cerminaro. Technical director is Roseanne Michaels.
Showtimes are Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors.
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