Chicago: High School Edition by Archmere Academy in Claymont, DE
February 25, 2020
Review submitted by Grazia LaRosa of Haverford High School.
Archmere Academy did not shy away from a challenge when taking on the raunchy and fierce Chicago: High School Edition.
Centered around the misdeeds of Chicago’s most demure murderesses of the 1930s, Chicago follows the rivalry of Roxie Hart, the aspiring vaudeville dancer who killed her paramour, and Velma Kelly, distinguished dancer and murderer of her husband and sister. In their time at the Cook County Jail, a cheap game of push and pull ensues as they duke it out for the help of the jail’s manipulative matron Mama Morton and rapacious lawyer Billy Flynn to become stars amidst their fifteen seconds of infamy.
Given the difficulty of maintaining the intrinsic raunchiness of Chicago while using a script adapted for high school consumption, Archmere valiantly strove to capture the sleaze of the story. While at times it seemed there were issues with comedic timing and dead air, the cast succeeded in projecting the show’s sordid liveliness with student Alexis Rendel’s razzle-dazzling choreography.
Serena Martin (Roxie Hart) and Alyssa Noval (Velma Kelly) were a wonderfully wicked pair whose devious energy and hate-twinged chemistry captivated the audience with ease. The nurturing yet wily Julia Parisi (Matron Mama Morton) had no trouble portraying the matriarch’s domineering finesse, adding to the show’s female power. A sweet contrast to all the show’s darkness, Rob Smith (Amos Hart) melted the audience’s hearts, nailing the naivete of Roxie’s gullible husband. And finally, Riley McAvinue (Billie Flynn) wowed with an impressive vocal range, scintillated with quick comedic timing, and emitted the gaudy artfulness that the role demanded.
Chock full of fierce feminine spirit, other notable performers include the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail. Each actress honed in on unique physicalities to retell their criminal stories in the number “Cell Block Tango” using the reimagined choreography by Alexis Rendel, bringing new, exciting life to a standard.
When the second half of the show began, a brief period of microphone issues emerged, interrupting the show’s overall great streak of clarity and good levels; however, the technical crew quickly solved this issue, showing clear skill and readiness.
Archmere Academy’s Chicago: High School Edition was a luring production, sure to make any audience member shiver.
Review submitted by Theresa Haas of Cardinal O’Hara High School
Where can you find murder, mystery, and all that jazz? Look no further than Archmere Academy’s production of Chicago: High School Edition!
Fighting for fame, Velma Kelly (Alyssa Noval) and Roxie Hart (Serena Martin) will stop at nothing to be praised by all. Both women, on death row for murder, turn to Billy Flynn, played by Riley McAvinue, to clear them of their sentences. Now turned against each other, Velma and Roxie compete to become the most famed murderer of Chicago.
Archmere’s cast lit up the stage with their killer performance. The dancers slayed the choreography as they boogied their way through the show.
Velma Kelly, played by Alyssa Noval, helped start the show with great energy in “All That Jazz.” Roxie Hart (Serena Martin) followed Velma with her comedic solo performance of “Funny Honey,” hitting every note with great conviction. They were a great complex duo since they both had such big egos. Riley McAvinue played his role as the slick manipulating lawyer, Billy Flynn, with ease and extraordinary attitude.
Amos Hart, played by Rob Smith, pulled at the strings of the audience. His performance in “Mr. Cellophane” made him one of the most lovable characters. Another bright spot was Julia Parisi, who played mysterious Matron Mama Morton. Her vocals in “When You’re Good to Mama” were so amazing it was almost a crime itself.
The use of the manual spotlights made the production special. There was so much going on during scenes, it helped focus on what was important. There was little color change in the lighting, but with what there was it was helpful for setting the scenes. Although there were some mic problems, the cast easily recovered and continued performing with little issue.
Were they found guilty? You’ll find out with the help of Archmere Academy’s criminally talented cast.