THE introduction to Chicago does nothing to hide what’s to follow, except the lights and colourful, onstage action.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery – all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”
The bold and sinister promise is delivered by Rosebud Secondary College students with wit, danger, style and a great deal of humour.
“Many people may have in mind the 1996 Broadway version or 2003 film – featuring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones – when they think of Chicago,” drama teacher Anthea Mackenzie said.
“However, our student directors, Alice Schlipalius and Annabelle Wemyss, have been encouraged to look to the original vaudeville roots of the 1975 version for inspiration, which was based on a 1926 non-musical play, Chicago, written by journalist and playwright, Maurine Dallas Watkins. Watkins was covering real life crimes at the time and noticed a peculiar and unsettling reality. It appeared feminine or attractive women would be found not guilty of heinous crimes, regardless of how heavily evidence leaned towards a guilty verdict.”
Chicago follows in Rosebud Secondary’s tradition of student-led productions. Working alongside production coordinators Mackenzie and Brea Low, students have been involved in all aspects of the production, from costume and set design to choreography and direction.
“Our interpretation is reminiscent of the 1920 art-deco style, and the colour palette inspired by newspaper print,’ Schlipalius and Wemyss said. “And we thought it was important to stay true to the original message of the time and what Chicago, at its core, is about; manipulation of the press at the expense of truth.”
Chicago: High School Edition presented by Rosebud Secondary College opens 18-20 July.