For two nights in mid November, musical lovers gathered in Eddy theatre to see the Drama Club’s production of “Chicago.” The lights went out, the curtains were raised and the audience was taken to a time of speakeasies and prohibition, where before there was reality TV, the highest form of entertainment was a good old fashioned murder.
When asked why the Drama Club chose “Chicago,” Director Maria Shoop said, “Chicago is full of strong female voices, which is really important when it comes to a women’s college doing a musical. Additionally, it is a fun and lively show.”
“Chicago” is based on real life events in the 1920s. While covering the trials of two women who were accused and ultimately acquitted of murder, and were the inspirations for the characters of Roxie and Velma, Journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins was inspired to write the satirical play “Chicago.”
Watkins was fascinated by the public’s fascination with high profile criminals and the ability of beautiful women to razzle dazzle their way out of prosecution in spite of their sometimes obvious guilt. Decades later, Watkins’ commentary on the media spectacles that go along with high profile crimes can be seen as relevant in many ways.
“Chicago” tells the story of the fame hungry, adulterous and homicidal Roxie Hart portrayed by the talented Allison Albitz. Throughout the musical, her story, along with other murderesses who felt their significant others “had it coming,” are told, particularly that of the lethal and jealous Velma Kelly, played by Indigo Baloch. Velma competes with Roxie for attention and a coveted attorney. In spite of their almost immediate disdain for one another, the two women have two things in common, their desire for fame and their goal to avoid a public hanging.
There were things about Chatham’s production of Chicago that made it unique. As Chatham is a women’s college, the cast was all female. Billy Flynn, the smooth talking, dramatic, yet effective lawyer was portrayed by Kaitlyn Lacey. Amos Hart, Roxie’s pitiful and eternally ignored husband was played by the hilarious and scene stealing Onastasia Youssef. Because of the acting skills and phenomenal costumes, anyone who hadn’t read the program might not have realized that Billy Flynn and Amos Hart were actually women.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” With confidence and unapologetic enthusiasm, the members of Chatham’s drama club shared themselves with their captivated audiences, leaving them with a sense of knowing the characters they portrayed. The performers struck a balance between staying true to the original play while making it their own with the stunning costumes, great singing and creativity.
With talent and great leadership, Chatham’s Drama Club is sure to deliver many more performances of beloved plays that students and faculty alike will enjoy. “It was a really fun process to see the show come together… getting to see it from start to finish is always a favorite for me,” said Shoop. When asked what Chatham’s Drama club could benefit from having, she simply replied that all they need is continued support.