Chicago: Music, Dance, Murder and Mayhem

AA Theatre and Music Wow Again!

Velma Kelly (Nori Little) jazzing it. (Becky Richards)

“Big, flashy, sparkly, jazz, loud”
These are just some of the words used by cast members to describe the Albuquerque Academy production of Chicago that debuted for the first time this past weekend. Directed by Desiree Lang, the musical takes place in the 1920s and depicts the lives of inmates Roxie Hart, played by Brook Caperton ‘23, Velma Kelly, played by Nori Little ‘25, Matron “Mama” Morton, played by Caroline Lutz ‘23, and the lives of their cell mates who are all in jail for murder. Chicago displays their struggles to appeal to local media and to attain the services of well-known lawyer Billy Flynn, played by Thomas Wray ‘24. This show was incredibly well put together and is worth the time of anyone interested in seeing a rip roaring crime drama musical. From the pit to the dances to the music the production quality of this show was impeccable and showed the hard work that took place to bring it together.

Roxie Hart (Brooke Caperton) serenades her funny honey. (Becky Richards)

I was particularly impressed with the costumes, designed by Elias Arredondo ‘23, lighting, designed by Sefi Yapita ‘23, sets, designed by the scenic and technical design class, and orchestra of the musical, directed by the inimitable Hovey Corbin.  The costumes of every character were centered around the time period of the 1920s and suited the personalities of the characters. The characters in prison wore striped dresses that still included 20s flare with fringe and tights while members of the press wore colorful suits and hats. There were also quite a few quick costume changes that were handled gracefully. In addition to the effective costumes, the sets of the production also did a good job of molding to the specific scene without changing too much. For the prison scenes, a block of cell bars were rolled onto the stage and helped propel effective transitions throughout the show. The lighting was also incredibly coordinated to the actors and matched the tone of each scene perfectly. The ability of the orchestra to align with the singing of each actor and change songs quickly was incredibly impressive and contributed to the overall sense of cohesion of this musical.

The Merry murderesses of the cook county jail. (Becky Richards)

Above all, I was most impressed by the sheer talent of the performers. The vocal talent of every performer, especially the lead actors Brook Caperton, Nori Little, Thomas Wray, and Quin Ross ‘25, entranced the audience. Every actor demonstrated vocal and dancing talent. The choreography, designed by Desiree Lang, of each song was also very coordinated and impressive. Of all the well performed 18 songs in the show, my personal favorite was We Both Reached for the Gun which showed a level of comedy and catchy lyrics that left the audience laughing and applauding.

Married Roxie Hart (Brooke Caperton) on an illicit date with Fred Casely (Adam Blanchard). (Becky Richards)

I would recommend this show to anyone and everyone regardless of their feelings about musicals. It was engaging, funny, and showed the real talent of the Academy theater community. Members of the cast want to encourage everyone considering seeing the show to know the work that went into it and know that there are some mature topics like murder and suicide. Overall, this show was incredibly successful and as one cast member commented, “it’s the best zero dollars you can spend on a show!” Chicago will be performed March 9 at 6:30 and March 10 and 11 at 7:00 in Simms Auditorium.