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Theater Department To Perform “Chicago: Teen Edition” Musical

Student actors bring downtown Chicago to life in fall production.
Photo courtesy of HPHS Theater Department
Main leads McKinley Meece, Morgan Martinez and Kate Denton pose in character for upcoming musical “Chicago: Teen Edition.”

On Oct. 12, a slice of 1920s downtown Chicago is coming to Highland Park in the form of “Chicago: Teen Edition.”

While “Chicago” may not be the most common choice for a high school musical, the changes to the play’s original script have made “Chicago: Teen Edition” much more school appropriate.

“Mr. Perring, Mrs. Walker, and I chose it together, and we chose it because it had the right amount of roles and the right roles for the kids that we have in the department right now,” theater director Brittany Murphy said “It’s just a really popular show right now. It’s been and it’s being done in a lot of high schools.”

Two songs, “Class” and “ A Bit of Good,” were removed along with adult and sexual language to make it school-appropriate.

After picking out the musical and making the necessary adjustments, the theater members were ready to begin production. Tryouts began last May, and since the start of rehearsals on Aug. 14, the performers have been working hard in rehearsals nearly every day.

“We rehearse every day except for weekends and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” theater director Brittany Murphy said. “A lot of people in the cast have other activities that they’re a part of, so it’s hard sometimes to get everybody all in one place together at the same time so that we can rehearse.”

Rehearsals started a few months back focusing on blocking, which is how the actors move within a given scene, and choreography. Along with this, they’ve been working on line memorization, singing, and sharpening up the routines.

“We finished blocking and we also finished learning the dance choreography,” Jessica Wu, a lead actress, said. “So right now it’s a lot of cleaning the dances, figuring out the mechanics, and also just running the whole show [through].”

Actors also have to work on developing their characters and finding ways to bring them to life. They use an acronym called GOTE to do this.

“You research, you start with the basics, and then you go in-depth thinking like ‘why would my character make this choice?,’” Wu said. “We do this thing called GOTE. It [stands for] goal, obstacle, tactic, and expectation which is an easy way to develop a character.”

The actors aren’t the only ones who put months of work into the show. A lot of the production effort also comes from the tech crew and the stage managers who show up before the actors and stay even later.

“The stage managers do a crazy amount of work every single day. They just do a lot of jobs that people don’t think about,” Murphy said. “[The actors] just assume when they walk in the door that it was like this when they got there, but it takes a lot of work from [the managers].”

Zoe Zaner and Faith Mazzuchi are the stage managers this year. Along with Tyler Perring’s theater classes, the stage crew have also been practicing all year for the show.

“One stage manager will be in the booth, queuing light and sound and mics, and just making sure the whole show runs smoothly. That’s me,” Mazzuchi said. “The other stage manager, Zoe, is backstage, [assisting] the crew, and helping [out].”

Even with the challenges of choreography, and balance between school and theater work, the actors, crew, and theater department have had a great time watching the show come to life. The nights of working together has allowed them to form a warm community.

“My favorite part of producing this play was just getting to hang with the squad because all the people in theater are just so great,” Mazzuchi said. “It’s been really cool to see the crew and actors evolve.”

The show is running from Oct. 12 to 15, and tickets are available on the HPHS Theater’s booster club website.

“I’m feeling nervous just to see how people will respond to it, but also excited because I feel like the cast is doing a really great job bringing everything to life,” Murphy said.

About the Contributor
Augusta McKenzie
Augusta McKenzie, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? Hanging out with the Newspaper staff. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  A tree house on a small island or in the rainforest with tons of colorful birds. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pasta