Haddonfield Memorial High School students will perform “Chicago: Teen Edition,” next month.
The show was picked by former theater director Matt DiDonato before he moved onto his new role as Math Content Area Supervisor for the district. Ava Kepple, the current theater director, shared that the musical was chosen to highlight student talent.
“They really wanted to showcase the students’ dance and singing abilities and they thought “Chicago” is mostly dance and singing, especially dance,” Kepple said. “And so they picked this show knowing Matt was leaving and knowing that they had a great group of kids … “
The show takes place in the roaring ’20s and follows murderess Roxie Hart in her quest for fame after murdering her affair partner.
“The show has stayed relevant all these years mainly because at the core of it, it is about fame and money and the attention and how fast that changes, how quickly people come into fame and come out of fame and what people would do to maintain it,” Kepple explained.
“Whether that’s talking about 1920s Chicago or 1970s New York when it first got on Broadway ’til today, you can see how that matches up with what we see in the media versus what is happening.”
The show features lively dance numbers and technical challenges. A full orchestra will be on stage with the actors rather than in the pit.
“You have to make it different than any other production that you’ve ever seen before, while also making it (choreographer Bob) Fosse,” noted Tess Smith, a senior who is also a co-dance captain for the show.
“Because if someone walks in and sees a performance of ‘All That Jazz’ that isn’t a lot of small Fosse movements, they’ll be like, ‘This isn’t Fosse, this isn’t ‘Chicago.’ Fassi has to be the base of all of it.”
For students, the show’s unique roles have given them a chance to experiment.
“The beauty of theater is that it’s always something different,” remarked Mia Bompensa, a senior who plays Velma Kelly, another murderess. “Every time you see a show, you’re not going to see a character twice.”
Although the preparations have been a bit different this year – including a new director and more people managing tasks – “Chicago: Teen Edition” has been a great experience for everyone involved.
Teacher Sara DeRossi is serving as the dance choreographer for the show, assisted by two student dance captains. Tyler Mills is the production’s vocal director.
“They’ve made my job really easy, because they’re so dedicated,” Kepple said.
The show will be performed on March 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., and March 2 at 2 p.m. Tickets are required and more information can be found at hmhsdrama.com.