Skyline’s “Chicago” Brings the Flash and Flare of the 1920s to Life


Aleise Robertson, Forum Writer

Murder. Crime. Revenge. Adultery. The story of Chicago in the 1920’s.

The Third and final play of the year is always filled with passion on and off the stage. This year’s production of the musical Chicago shone a light on the flourishing theater community and its shining stars.

The musical Chicago is focused around two murderesses, both of whom are incredibly egotistical and proud. Velma (played by Sanjana Anand) killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together. Roxie (played by Madeline Cashman) is another murderess who killed the man she had been cheating on her husband with because he tried to walk out on her. 

Both the murderesses had phenomenal song and dance numbers that helped the audience understand their backstories and engaged them in the story. The ensemble helped to set the tone for many of the songs and allowed the audience to understand the tension and provocative themes of the musical.

Specifically, the song and dance number “The Cell Block Tango” explained not only Velma’s backstory and crimes, but those of other women as well. The passionate expressions of the actors and the power of their voices could be felt throughout the theater and hooked the audience.

The songs were accompanied by the band who were present on stage which made the impact of the songs much larger. The bands’ presence made the theater feel more authentic to the 1920’s and the jazz that the time is known for, especially when the actors interacted with members of the band throughout the show.

Both killers eventually find themselves in Cook County jail. Velma came to the jail before Roxie and had ensured the help of the best lawyer there is, Billie Flynn (played by Dallin Olson). Roxie followed Velma’s lead and Billie Flynn was able to make Roxie’s case and image spread like wildfire in the media.

One of many particularly memorable scenes for many in the audience was when Roxie was working with Billie Flynn to tell her side of the story to the press.  Billie Flynn had told her what to say and that he was the one in charge of her public image, Roxie sat stiff and rigid on Billie Flynn’s lap acting as a ventriloquist doll for the whole scene during the song “We Both Reached for the Gun.” Cashman did an astonishing job portraying to the audience that she was simply a puppet in the public eye.

When Roxie’s popularity seems to have died down, she then fakes a pregnancy to make her case a priority to Billie Flynn and is awarded her freedom after her trial, but not her dream of fame.

The show is full of twists and turns for the audience provoking gasps and laughs as they try to guess what may happen next and if the murderesses will eventually be awarded their freedom and get the attention they desire or die trying.

A detailed and well-done musical such as this one presents unique challenges for the actors. The songs and elaborate dances in the play along with lines and stage directions help move the story along, which means the actors are presented with a much bigger load. 

Cashman said, “trying to juggle the fact that I was a much bigger part this year was really hard, but I think with the amount of time we were given it made it easier and our directors are really great at what they do, which let me focus on things like juggling dancing, remembering my lines and blocking and singing.”

The details in the play made it so the actors had to find ways outside of rehearsals to learn their lines. 

Olson said “I had a lot more lines and acting in scenes than I had before, I was stressed about getting all my lines. I went through all my scenes and voice recorded them on my phone. I would listen to them in class or in between sets at the gym to get them down.” 

Although they were presented with many challenges, the actors were given the opportunity to make this play their own through their choices on stage. 

Cashman said “I was able to dive into a character like I haven’t been able to before and was able to fully understand the character. I was able to do something I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to last year, and since she is such a comedic character it was really fun to add my own take.” 

The final production of the year gave the audience, cast and crew something bold and passionate to remember and left a lasting impact, not only from the shimmery confetti dropped from the ceiling at the end of the show that can be found throughout the school. 

The most bittersweet part of the end of the year is the seniors leaving and in theater, the musical is their big finale. Although the musical is a triumphant end to the year for the seniors, it is their last show which means they have to say their goodbyes. 

“After our matinee show we gather in the choir room and each senior has a chance to say a little speech” Cashman said, “there were definitely no dry eyes in that room after that.” 

Theater allowed the seniors to learn and grow with the support and love of those around them. For many seniors’ theater and its community will have a lasting impact and they will take all that they have with them after graduating.

“Theater has taught me a lot about respecting people, how to love people, and how to own up to things you have done. Theater has changed me a lot as a person for the better.” Olson said, “We are all trying our best and we are all human. You’re always going to be nervous, but a lot of it is confidence even if you’re about to throw up, you’ve got to act.”