Normally it would take a lot for me to think about going to see a high school production. Not only that but I’m not really a fan of the Chicago musical either, but what brought me ultimately to see this particular high school production was because one of the students I tutored in mathematics was a part of it. What makes this student different from most anyone else is the fact that for someone as cerebral as she is, auditioning for a play, let alone a musical is a huge step away from her norm. It was a risk, but when it came out that she was called back for the part of Velma Kelly (mind you this is her first audition), but ultimately cast in ensemble… it meant a great deal for her, and I vowed to do what I can to see her in it.
Fortunately time was by my side, with rehearsal over by five, I had enough time to relax and then ultimately head over to Lemont High School to see her production, what I didn’t expect to see was her not only in the ensemble, but also w/ lines as the Bailiff in the trial of Roxie Hart. As her math tutor I was more than proud for her, she did something that was completely and totally out of her comfort zone and not only did she find that she enjoyed it, she actually caught the acting bug as well.
What caught my attention from the get go was the actress that played Roxie Hart. Roxie, to me, was suppose to be this annoying little chit while Velma Kelly should be the starlet that needed a real breakthrough. Instead the girl that played Roxie totally stole the show while the girl that played Velma bored me half to death.
I mean Roxie just oozed confidence and charisma on that high school stage, she had bright red hair and a million-watt smile. I was actually looking forward to seeing her come on stage during her numbers and seeing what she would do next even though I knew the show well enough to not be surprised. Not only was she a strong actress, she had great vocal chops and shined just enough in the dance numbers.
Velma, to me, was rather dull. She was tall but she never really took advantage of that height for she had a bit of a habit of slouching or crouching throughout most of the show that I saw and seeing that really turned me off to her as a character as a whole. Velma’s singing seemed forced at times even though her characterization was realistic to an extent. For some reason it didn’t seem as natural as Roxie’s… and when they did their duets I found myself drawn more to Roxie as opposed to Velma or both equally.
Another standout was Roxie’s husband, Amos Hart. The guy that played him added so many comedic points that it was almost impossible to believe that he would have been ignored. But he played his character to a tee, bashful and shy (to an extent). So when he came out for his big number “Cellophane”, his little nuances just kept the character going.
On the other hand Billy Flynn bored me half to death, his acting seemed very monotone not to mention his voice constantly on the same level. There wasn’t any difference or colors in Billy Flynn and it bothered me because I wanted to love to hate him or hate to love him, but I felt neither, I was just simply bored… there is no other word to describe it.
Then again what really drew me to the production was one primary set/stage piece. The majority of the stage was a series of steps going up to a balcony with bars with a very monochromatic look to it. However, off to the side on stage left there was a turntable where the Hart’s bedroom, Mama Morton’s office, and Billy Flynn’s office sat. The turntable was broken down into three equal pie pieces two of which had a single door that both went into the office of Mama Morton (that had two doors), and when a scene change was needed the turn table would turn to the appropriate side set. I thought it was rather ingenious, not having seen another production do it, but I could be wrong.
All in all the production was rather worth while. The personal/sentimental tie giving me a reason to see the production in the first place and the production itself giving me a reason to believe that high school productions can be strong in the right combination. I might not see another show at Lemont High School (no real reason to) but next time I won’t be as adverse in going and instead I would be more open minded in the possibility of going.