Fishnet stockings and tank tops, tales of scorned lovers and vengeful murders and “all that jazz” comprised of Wilcox High School’s spring musical, “Chicago” during its April 24 dress rehearsal, held at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts. The school’s year-round Theater Productions class and the Wilcox Stage Company (wilcoxstage.weebly.com) put on the show, which runs through May 4.
“This show is about treachery and violence. The story is set during the 1920s during prohibition,” said Syl Cole, 16, the show’s student director. “I had all the actors look deep into their characters and do back stories. From the back stories, we see that a lot of people were trapped in this world they want to get out of.”
Certainly, a number of female characters were stuck in prison for murdering their significant others. Explaining how these homicides occurred, the “six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail,” with their male victims, performed a memorable and cleverly choreographed “Cell Block Tango.”
Joining the club was Roxie, who knocked off her lover, Fred. Roxie’s emerging status as the newest celebrity killer threatened the public interest in Velma (Olivia Gonzales, 16), imprisoned murderess of yesterday’s news.
Determined to be set free, Roxie manipulated the public into sympathizing for her by portraying herself as a victim.
“In this show, you see people going through a great expense to put on a facade,” said Chloe Allen, 17, who plays Roxie. “For example, Roxie pretends that she’s pregnant even when she’s not. Roxie makes up this story that Fred was abusing her. The people that Roxie tells the story to, they’re blindsided by her whimsical actions and the glamour of it all. They don’t see the truth behind it, which is that she shot and killed someone.”
Roxie’s husband, Amos, fell for Roxie’s lies.
“At the beginning of the story, Amos thinks he’s protecting his wife when he confesses to a crime he didn’t commit,” said Elijah James Cain, 16, who plays Amos. “He thinks he’s protecting his wife but she’s just using him. Amos tells two stories — don’t be easily manipulated, and the other one is to do the right thing. Amos is there to show the audience the cost of being manipulated.”
In one scene, admirers clutching big pink feathers surrounded hotshot attorney Billy, also a manipulator. Kevon Nordquist, 17, who plays Billy, charmingly belted out “All I Care About Is Love,” as if Billy’s mere announcement of his “values” made it true that he actually owned these values.
“My personal view is that Billy loves himself the most,” Nordquist said. “He’s somewhat of a showman. He tries to show that he’s this nice and generous guy. But at the end, there’s a line where he says that he’s in it just for the money when he represents the accused in court cases.”
Billy also dropped his mask when he coldly put Roxie in her place: “You’re a phony celebrity, kid. In a couple of weeks, no one will know who you are. That’s Chicago.”