Schreiber Presents Chicago: High School Edition
The Schreiber Theatre Company will be dancing its way onto the Schreiber High School auditorium stage with renditions of “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle” as the company performs Chicago: High School Edition on Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. with additional performances on March 1 and 2, at 7:30 p.m. and March 3, at 2 p.m.
Billed as “a musical vaudeville,” Chicago: High School Edition, tells the story of chorus girl Roxie Hart, who finds herself on Murderer’s Row in the Cook County Jail after shooting her faithless lover, Fred. Smooth-talking attorney Billy Flynn agrees to take on Roxie’s case and manipulates the Chicago press to make Roxie a celebrity. Roxie and another “Merry Murderess,” Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the American Dream—fame, fortune, and acquittal.
The production team for Chicago: High School Edition, is led by director Lauren Foster-Holzer, with vocal music direction by Ryan Occena, choreography by Floryn Glass and Jessica Wontropski, orchestra direction by Anthony Pinelli Jr., and is produced by Christine Nelson. One of Schreiber’s seniors, Max Finkelstein, is an assistant director for the production on top of his role as Sergeant Fogarty.
“I help with the different aspects of production, whether that’s the simple things like taking attendance, cueing music,” said Finkelstein. “It’s something new for me. It’s something really rewarding and I’ll take on in further places like college. I learned a lot from the other actors and the directors.”
The production features more than 70 students in the cast, playing in the orchestra and running the backstage and technical crew.
The Port Washington News sat down with all 15 of the seniors in the cast to get the run-down on Schreiber’s latest production.
Many of the actors explained that they decided to audition for the production out of love for the show itself.
“Specifically, this show is in my favorite style of dance, Fosse,” said Sarabeth Schiff, who plays Roxie Hart. “I’ve gotten to be part of one Fosse production before in my life and had the absolute best time of my life, so when I heard that Chicago was going to be the musical, I was ecstatic.”
“Ever since freshman year, I’ve always been interested in the show,” said Jared Wofse who plays Fred Casley. “I was in the pit the first year. Then I was just drawn in and the next year I tried out for both the play and the musical and fell in love with it ever since.”
When asked to describe their characters in three words, Dylan Forman, who plays Martin Harrison said, “Basline, average and dorky,” while Daisy Griffin, who plays June said, “Intense, cruel and ruthless.”
The most rewarding parts about being in Chicago: High School Edition for the students ranged from it being “a chance to shine individually and in groups,” (Max Welsh, master of ceremonies) to “dance numbers where I get to show the characters that I’ve created,” (Katy DuCharme, part of the jury and ensemble member) to getting “to do the show with all these people and working with the production staff,” (Megan Day, foreman of the jury).
While the show proved rewarding to all of the cast members, they said there were also many challenges they overcame while working on the production. Matthew DeMarino, who has the role of Amos Hart, said his character was “one of the harder parts I’ve had to play, trying to be introverted and always downplaying everything.” Margaret Harper, who performs as a hula hooper and juror, joked that hula hooping on her neck was the most challenging part. She later revealed that she believed the most challenging part would be fitting in with the cast because it is her first year in a Schreiber production, but she said she “felt community from the start.”
“I think the show is unique because it’s an iconic piece of theater,” said Veronica Lee, who plays Velma Kelly. “We’re recreating a show so many people have seen before. As soon as people watch the show, I think they’ll recognize at least three of the songs so it’s a big challenge to meet that expectation, but it’s a really wonderful opportunity at the same time.”
Because the show has a ton of choreography, each of the performers approached the dance numbers differently. Maya Konoff, who performs as Hunyak, explained it was difficult for her to pick up the choreography, which is so different from the gymnastics routines she has learned, but the cast has been supportive in her endeavors.
“I do enjoy dancing a lot, so choreography always comes naturally to me,” said Piper Woods who plays Liz. “Dancing is one of my favorite parts of the show simply because it’s a way to express emotion in such a pure physical way and channeling that into a character so full of rage is actually a lot of fun.”
The seniors couldn’t stop gushing about why Port should come see the show. Dalia Bercow, who is on the jury and a rollerskater, explained the show offers satire on the political system and the press, which is relevant in today’s society.
“In all the years I’ve seen the shows at Schreiber, it’s unlike anything Schreiber has ever done,” said Eden Franco, who plays Matron “Mama” Morton. “It’s so provocative. It’s also interesting to see how these women’s lives play out even after they’re in jail for so long. It’s cool we’re getting the opportunity as high schoolers to do a show still running on Broadway after all these years.”
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and complimentary for senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased at the box office beginning one hour before the show.