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Colerain High School's CHICAGO (TEEN EDITION)

Review by Justin Hughes, Taylor High School Critic Team

Putting the roar in the Roaring Twenties, Colerain High School’s production of the timeless classic Chicago (Teen Edition) took audiences back in time to the prohibition era when fashion was high…but murder rates higher.

Deriving from a 1926 play of synonymous title, Chicago was originally written by famed crime reporter and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins. Opening as a Broadway musical in 1975 with a book by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb, as well as a catchy score by John Kander, Chicago honors Vaudeville while mocking the “celebrity criminal” weaknesses of the judicial system. Following the murder of the lover she wouldn't let get away, Roxie Hart is facing the death penalty. While in the Cook County Jail, Roxie meets the notorious Velma Kelly. With the help of the silver-tongued lawyer Billy Flynn, Roxie proves her “innocence." The two fellow murderesses use their newfound publicity to compete for the public eye and launch themselves into stardom.

The company at Colerain High School put on an undeniably skilled, yet satirical performance exploring the treacherous and violent realities faced by women defendant’s within the 1920’s Chicago metropolis. Flamboyant and dynamic onstage performances accompanied by meticulous technical details made Colerain’s rendition a bang.

Stepping into the multifaceted role of Roxie Hart, Adriana Mayfield accurately displayed her conniving yet ever changing timid and vain nature. Natural comedic timing, commanding stage presence and an emotive, controlled vibrato won audiences over in her fame hungry campaign. A notable moment showcasing Mayfield was throughout the song "We Both Reached for the Gun" as she is manipulated as if she were a puppet by sleazy, big-shot lawyer Billy Flynn. Orville McDonald IV fulfilled this role. Working hand in hand and having heavy influence throughout Roxie’s incarcerated days, McDonald built a charismatic bond between the two, connected at the hands of murder. McDonald’s performance perfectly complimented that of Mayfield. A wide vocal range and nuanced expression wonderfully contributed to a successful embodiment of Billy Flynn.

Velma Kelly portrayed by Chanel Sanchez left audiences in awe as she performed in jealous rage. Sanchez smooth and jazzy vocals shone in ‘I Know a Girl’ and although faced with mic difficulties for a portion of the show, she carried on without missing a beat, delivering a gritty performance. Alongside Velma were the rest of the six merry murderesses. They provided audiences with "All That Jazz" with dazzling twists, kicks, and vocals in numbers such as "The Cell Block Tango" and "We Both Reached For The Gun."

Held down by the consistency of the "Chicago Orchestra," performers were given the opportunity to shine. Made up of majority high schoolers playing a multitude of instruments, the orchestra was lively and an honorable facet of Colerain High School's production of Chicago. The lighting crew led by Jaelin Parker wonderfully set the mood of this production. Parker’s choices on lighting cues and execution of timing were impeccable. The down lighting during "The Cell Block Tango" created the silhouette of the six merry murderesses and had wonderful use of this same effect throughout the show.

Colerain High School gave audiences the old "Razzle Dazzle" in a glamorous rendition of the classic murderous musical. Colerain High School successfully navigated the undertaking of what many would consider an intimidating show. Colerain’s production, full of driven, skillful performers and a seamless backstage was a strong testament as to why Chicago is continuously one of the most popular musicals.

Review by Dakota Roberts, William Henry Harrison High School Critic Team

Murderous jazz hands mixed with jail cell beauty are brought together to create a dazzling performance of Chicago (Teen Edition) by Colerain High School all around.

Written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, Chicago follows the main protagonist Roxie Hart who's been arrested for murder in a satirical retelling of murder cases where women would be let off for being attractive. She finds herself among other women, the Merry Murderesses, with similar stories to tell, and she comes to find out that a death sentence is inevitable for her situation. This causes Roxie to seek out the help of Billy Flynn, who’s able to pull the strings behind Roxie, manipulating her words like a puppet master in order to make her a headline hit in the newspapers.

From the set crew all the way to the actors, Colerain High School put on a great interpretation of the show. Whether it be symbolic props, brilliant set pieces or purposeful acting, they had it all. The cast and crew was able to achieve anticipated musical numbers such as “Cell Block Tango” in an outstanding performance mixed with impactful lighting choices, which all around made the show come to life.

Making a lasting impression with her stage presence, Adriana Mayfield made her character Roxie known right from the start with a bang, literally, as she shot her lover. Her switch in “They Both Reached for the Gun” from playing a pitied and helpless young woman, to quickly snapping back into her ruthless personality, the audience gets to see who Roxie really is, which Mayfield intensely captured. Working alongside her was Orville McDonald IV , playing Billy Flynn, who “Razzle Dazzle[d]” the audience in each of his vocal performances. His inviting interpretation of the character, fed into the idea of Billy being the puppeteer of the show, as it drew people in to his manipulative nature.

Jazz hands and sass were thrown out left and right by Chanel Sanchez in her stunning interpretation of Velma Kelly as she displayed the similar yet contrasting attitudes between Velma and Roxie. Sanchez performed alongside the Merry Murderesses in the jail, who worked together in unison to create a story behind the scenes even when the focus wasn't on them, such as fighting over cigarettes. This created the illusion that the story went on everywhere on stage, keeping the whole scene together, rather than creating a disconnect.

There were a few microphone mishaps, however the sound crew didn't let this stop them as they did a great job accommodating the orchestra’s volume while keeping the microphones up on the actors to keep the scenes going. A stunning light show was put together by the light crew ( Jaelin Parker, Hank Jablonski, CJ Howell, and Vince Popp)The lights needed to be flashy and loud to match the jazzy energy of Chicago, and they accomplished just that, they were able to match the energy needed to create an impactful performance.

Overall, Colerain’s performance of Chicago was lively and energetic as they captured the murderous themes mixed with jazz in the Cook County Jail to create a stunning performance.

Claire Buirley, School For Creative and Performing Arts Critic Team

From glittering dresses to jazz to murder, Colerain High School’s performance of Chicago (Teen Edition) was nothing short of spectacular. The cast and crew masterfully led the audience through a story of deception, greed, corruption, betrayal, and treachery. Top notch vocals, and thorough choreography united to create an unforgettable performance.

A criminal reporter by the name of Maurine Dallas Watkins wrote Chicago in 1926. This piece of satire follows the story of Roxie Hart, a woman who kills her lover when he attempts to leave her. Desperately trying to avoid hanging, she dazzles the public alongside Billy Flynn, the best and most foul playing lawyer in the city. A rivalry with Velma Kelly, greed for fame, and a murder trial all come together to form this exciting show.

The students at Colerain skillfully took on the challenge of this show, proving themselves to be a phenomenal company through superior vocals, intricate choreography, and captivating acting.

A rich lower register was brought to the stage by Adriana Mayfield in the role of Roxie Hart. Her performance throughout the show was clean and engaging. She brought the outwardly charming and inwardly devious personality of Roxie to the stage perfectly. Alongside her, Velma Kelly, played by Chanel Sanchez, was sarcastic, witty, and brought an arrogance to the stage unseen by any other character. Sanchez’s performance was unforgettable, and despite microphone troubles, Sanchez adapted quickly and professionally.

A fantastic student orchestra guided the show through its ups and downs, even participating in the show, namely when holding up newspapers when Amos aka Mr. Cellophane, requested his “walk off music," leaving the audience in fits of laughter.

Lighting was a key component to this story, and the Colerain crew, led by Jaelin Parker did not disappoint. Spotlights were skillful, and the change of color based on the needs of the scene were ingenious. Cadence Lynn as stage manager made sure the show ran as smoothly as possible, keeping the scene changes brisk and neat. The sets were simple yet brilliant, the shimmering lights spelling Chicago in the back intelligently framed each scene.

Colerain High School really brought the “Razzle Dazzle” to the stage in their rendition of Chicago. Expert performances paired with stunning technical elements created a remarkable show, demonstrating the passion and talent that is poured from these students onto the stage.

Excerpts From Other Top Reviews

"Giving a show stopping performance was Chanel Sanchez, who played Velma Kelly. Throughout the production, Sanchez brought passion and confidence to the stage while showing a flamboyant and hotsy-totsy interpretation. Even with occasional microphone issues, Sanchez persevered and expertly projected her voice and carried her emotions through her body language, leaving no question as to the value of her performance. Also giving a peachy keen performance was Michael McDaniel, who played Amos Hart. McDaniel showed such undeniable loyalty and talent throughout the entirety of the show. His execution of the song 'Mr. Cellophane' left the audience with plenty of sympathy for the loveable and tender actor."

-Chloe Schwettmann, William Henry Harrison High School Critic Team

"The props team, consisting of Cadence Lynn, Joanna Baker, Arach McNamara, Paris Love Adams, Gracin Conly, and Arach McNamara, was highly successful in adding detail and individuality into Colerain’s Chicago: Teen Edition. Things such as standing microphones and newspaper headlines reading “Roxie’s Downfall” add delightful realism to the story and era of the show. Similarly, the costume crew of Francis Camarca and D’Vyne Foster created a cohesive environment, such as sparkling flapper style dresses for the murderesses that flowed beautifully and the usage of a baby blue dress for Roxie during the trial that mirrored the innocent persona of her defense exquisitely."

-Cailyn Miles, Campbell County High School Critic Team

"The set crew (Samantha Cooper, Zavier Davis, Olivia Sunderman, Cayden Wopperer, and Abby Sarver) worked tirelessly to bring the vaudeville style to reality through their city-scape background, brightly lit marquee, and audience-level cafe tables. Their joined effort transported the show back to the time of jazz and liquor."

-Alexandra Hess, Campbell County High School Critic Team

"Of course, a wonderful cast could not truly prosper without an equally wonderful crew. They can’t do it alone! Many areas of the crew stood out, such as publicity, props, and stage crew, as they were all very tailored to the quick nature of the show with much attention to detail. But one aspect of the crew, hair and makeup, required a lot of research and extra understanding in order to step it over the top. And step it up they did! Spearheaded by Madison Lynn Jacob, the hair and makeup matched the energy of the costumes and the show by incorporating colors dark and deep."

-Ava VanBuskirk, Loveland High School Critic Team

"Making her debut appearance on stage, Adriana Mayfield excellently captured the native and timid, yet egocentric and vanity attributes of Roxie Hart. Transitioning from the conceited housewife to vainglorious and cold-blooded murderess was exemplified through Mayfield’s performance of “Roxie," as she showcased her excitement for stardom through her body language and vocal resonance."

-Kylie Elliott, Taylor High School Critic Team

"Greatly contributing to this production's success was the ensemble, specifically actor Skye McDaniel who carried a consistent energy through all her movements. Further helping was none other than Lily Flores who had enthusiastic rhythm and musicality in her dances. The ensemble took on a small but mighty role in this production as their choreography set the stage the largest numbers; doing justice to 'Cell Block Tango.'"

-Zack Simpson, Ryle High School Critic Team

"Overall, Colerain High School captured the true meaning of the musical Chicago. Strong acting and vocals paired with creative props and a clever set truly made for a dazzling performance."

-Kevin Webb, Campbell County High School Critic Team

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