Student review — 'Chicago' delivers
The sights and sounds of 1920s Chicago came to life in Trumbull High School's musical production of CHICAGO: High School Edition, which opened this past weekend at the school's Robert E. McCarthy Auditorium.
The student company, under the direction of Trumbull High’s Jessica Spillane, delivered an audience-pleasing show driven by strong lead performances, whirling Fosse-inspired choreography, dazzling set pieces, professional calibre lighting, and an all around exceptional cast chemistry evident from the moment the curtain rose.
The show chronicles the rise of celebrity criminals during the height of the Roaring 20s, and follows the story of Roxie Hart, an aspiring Vaudeville performer who finds herself jailed for the murder of her secret lover. Intent on making a name for herself, Roxie sets out to parlay her newfound criminal infamy into a successful career in show business. Filled with smart satire, charismatic characters, and witty humor, Trumbull’s rendition of ‘Chicago’ delivers an authentic period performance with themes that instantly resonate with modern audiences.
Act One opens with a tightly choreographed performance of “All That Jazz.” Helmed by sophomore Caroline Marchetti, the show’s opening piece sets the tone for much of Act One. In the Act’s third scene, we’re introduced to the ‘Cell Block Girls’ who occupy the Cook County jail. The spunky and humorous quintet of Camryn Fetzer, Juliana Martins, Natalie DeVito, Rachel Weintraub, and Ali Karpowich had the audience laughing and tapping along with their introductory piece ‘Cell Block Tango’.
The Cell Block Girls’ number was certainly a highlight of Act One. Other Act One standouts included senior Maria Griffin’s portrayal of the slightly sensationalist journalist Mary Sunshine, sophomore Jenna DeLucia’s vocally pristine performance as the well-connected prison ward Mama Morton, and senior Danny Randazzo’s sharp showing as the ill-fated Fred Casely.
Undoubtedly, the most captivating performances of the show came from the leading trio of Roxie, fellow prison inmate Velma Kelly, and hot shot defense attorney Billy Flynn; portrayed by senior Jackie Mate, sophomore Caroline Marchetti, and senior Tom Leonard, respectively. Mate and Leonard delivered yet another solid performance, capping off four years as two of Trumbull’s preeminent theatrical stars. Mate in particular showcased her signature stage command, as she captivated the audience with her devious murderess demeanor and stunning vocals. Likewise, Marchetti showed that Trumbull High’s theatrical future is bright. The sophomore, appearing in just her second high school production (dance ensemble in last year’s Curtains), brought with her the confidence and musical instincts of a seasoned performer.
Taking her cues from the legendary Bob Fosse, the show’s choreographer Andrea Metchick produced brilliantly crafted sequences that were performed effortlessly by the talented dance ensemble led by captains Ashley Anderson, Ali Karpowich, and Camryn Fetzer. The men’s dance ensemble showed off their talents as well, as they accompanied Velma and Roxie for numerous pieces.
By the time the curtain rises for Act Two, audiences are eager to resume the story of Roxie, who is preparing to fight the murder charges with her lawyer Billy Flynn. It is in the back half of the play that senior Harrison Gilberti, playing Roxie’s good-natured husband Amos, really makes his mark. In ‘Mister Cellophane’, Gilberti delivers a simultaneously humorous, yet empathetic ballad. As things begin to pick back up again, the entire ensemble shines in the courtroom scene. Each member of the ensemble made the stage their own, perfectly animating the wildly entertaining trial of Roxie Hart. Closing out the show, Roxie and Velma deliver one final stunner as they are joined again by the ensemble.
Throughout the entire show, music director Jerold Goldstein and his orchestra delivered flawless accompaniment. Technical Director Matt Bracksieck and his entire team expertly tended to the show’s behind-the-scenes demands. The show’s crew, led by junior Nathan DiPinto and senior Gretchen D’Amato, deserve particular praise for their seamless stage management. Well-executed set designs by THS theatre alumni Sam Maloney and Stephanie Bont helped transform the McCarthy Auditorium into a venue fit for the biggest Vaudeville stars, and costuming by Mary Joan Wright, Jeannette Davidson, and Merial Cornell was exceptional. Finally, none of the play’s whirling musical numbers would be possible without the bright lights of senior James Gallo and alumni Everett Rende. Both delivered picture perfect lighting.
Trumbull High’s Chicago will be showing this weekend on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30.