Whitney High School’s production, Chicago, began its opening night on Halloween, continuing its evening shows on the following Friday and Saturday night. Lucy Acuna, a junior, played the main role of Roxie Hart, a wannabe superstar, who, in an uncontrollable fit of rage, murders her lover. In the midst of Roxie’s attempt to cover up the murder, she meets her lifetime idol and infamous double-murderess, Velma Kelly. Velma is notorious around the streets of Chicago for also successfully getting away with murder, and her character is played by freshman Melyne Garcia. Velma and Roxie both rise to fame for their murders, while still lusting for the spotlight and newspaper headlines. The performers hire the greedy, but successful, lawyer Billy Flynn to defend them, causing the two rivals to frequently cross paths throughout the course of the musical.
This is Lucy Acuna’s tenth school production, and Melyne’s fourth production. Despite only being a freshman, Melyne wowed her audience with her wide vocal range. Rishi Golani, who played Billy Flynn, sang an unforgettable note for over 20 seconds to end his song, “Reached for the Gun.” When asked how he prepared for thia, Golani stated that he religiously “steamed [his] voice every day to make sure [his] voice was healthy. [He] would then practice singing the note and holding it for as long as [he] could to build endurance. Cough drops also really helped [him].”
Whitney High School’s Chicago’s stage set was extravagant: a black stage with stairs and a background consisting of five-feet-tall, bright red letters spelling “Chicago,” outlined in hundreds of miniature yellow lights. This musical was performed in the Grace Hu Auditorium, locally recognized in Cerritos, California for its modern architecture, with sound and light systems. The song, “Cell Block Tango,” was an audience-favorite, with the famous line, “Pop, six, squish, uh uh, cicero, lipschitz” being repeated faster and faster throughout the song.
The costuming reflected the promiscuous setting of nighttime Chicago, consisting of short black dresses, fishnet tights, sequined tops, and jazz shoes. The makeup reflected the flirtatious behavior of the coquettish performers, with red lips, black winged eyeliner, and smokry black eyeshadow. The nightclub showgirls, who serenaded their idol Roxie Hart, wore white tasseled dresses with large feather fans. Rishi Golani, who played Billy Flynn, a lawyer who manipulated the tabloid covers in favor of his A-list clients, wore a striped black and white suit with slicked hair to hint at his mischievous, morally-questionable tactics.
When asked about her opinion of the musical, Allison Lee, a sophomore, stated, “I really enjoyed everything! This musical exceeded my expectations: starting from the dance routines, to the plotline of the story, to the voices.” Even during the 15-minute intermission, there was a buzz in the main lobby, as the audience members talked excitedly about the show.
The cast stayed after school, working tirelessly in the Whitney High School drama room to rehearse the musical to near perfection. During the credits of the musical on the closing night, the cast thanked the crew for working in the background: applying makeup on the performers, moving the stage sets between acts, and working the stage lights. Thank you to the crew, cast, and Whitney High’s director, Jodi Improta for putting on such a great show!
Stella J. Hong, Grade 11
Whitney High School