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Review of JCHS’s Chicago

Photo courtesy of @cwcjchs on Instagram.

“Chicago” was a hit success at JCHS! On March 8th, JCHS opened the auditorium doors for the long-awaited premier of the spring musical. “Chicago,” the legendary Broadway musical originally staged in 1975, has long captivated audiences with its sardonic look at the concept of the “celebrity criminal,” set against a backdrop of Jazz Age glitz and glamor. (penguinhall.org). Its timeless appeal lies in its sharp commentary on fame, justice, and the media, themes that are arguably more relevant today than ever before.The recent production has dared to reimagine this classic here at JCHS, leading to an extraordinary teen version of “Chicago.” According to the New York Times, the teen adaptation “not only brings a fresh perspective to the narrative but showcases the incredible talent and depth of today’s youth theater.” I saw this performance on Saturday night and I was blown away at how well it turned out. 


For some background, “Chicago” is a celebrated musical set in Jazz Age Chicago, focusing on the lives of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, two women who turn their criminal trials into media spectacles in hopes of leveraging their newfound fame into vaudeville careers. Roxie, a nightclub dancer, murders her lover and, with the help of a slick lawyer, tries to manipulate the public and the media. Velma, already in jail for killing her husband and sister, competes with Roxie for the spotlight. “Chicago” critically examines the American obsession with fame and sensationalism. Since its 1975 Broadway debut and its highly successful 1996 revival, it has become the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, celebrated worldwide for its enduring themes and musical numbers like “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle.”


The musical started off the opening song of “All That Jazz.” This iconic number sets the stage for one of musical theater’s most enduring shows, weaving a tale of intrigue, ambition, and the dark allure of celebrity. This was one of the best openings to a musical I had seen so far. The cast had amazing voices and were all super talented. The choreography was done well and I loved watching every second of it. Additionally, the musical’s score includes some of theater’s most well-known numbers, such as “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” and “Razzle Dazzle,” each reflecting the show’s themes of glamor, criminal celebrity, and the dark underbelly of American society during the 1920s. “Chicago” has been hailed for its sharp wit, dazzling score, and the way it challenges audiences to see the allure and absurdity of a media-saturated culture that turns criminals into celebrities. 


Our production also utilized a live orchestra during the performance. Live music in a theatrical production like “Chicago” significantly enhances the experience by creating an immersive atmosphere, ensuring a dynamic interaction between the musicians and performers, and adding an element of spontaneity and vibrancy that recorded music cannot match. It enriched the authenticity of the performance, making the audience feel directly connected to the energy and spirit of the show.The orchestra added so much to the performance. But what impressed me most about our school’s production of “Chicago ” was the passion and dedication of everyone involved. From the cast to the crew to the production team behind the scenes, it was clear that this was a labor of love, a true testament to the power of collaboration and creativity.


In the end, “Chicago” wasn’t just a musical; it was an experience—an unforgettable journey into the heart of one of Broadway’s most beloved shows. The cast and crew of JCHS did an incredible job. Congrats to the cast and crew on their hard work, it definitely paid off!

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