All That Jazz
May 25, 2012
Murder, manipulation, and hurtful lies. Everything an Archer girl holds near and dear to her heart, right? In March, the Upper School put on a thrilling production of the prohibition-era musical, Chicago.
One thing about this show that made it a unique theater experience right off the bat was the pre-show. While walking into the black box to take a seat, the audience was greeted by the entire ensemble scattered around the theater. Some were even offering audience members drinks (non-alcoholic ones of course). What was most amazing about this was that not a single actor broke character for a second. Each girl was fully committed to the person they were playing.
The set was made to look like a 1920’s speakeasy. Rather than using simple backgrounds with monochromatic costumes like the current Broadway revival of Chicago, Archer used colorful and fun costumes, not to mention a beautifully constructed set. The word “Chicago” was even written in huge lights on the center stage wall.
The show stayed true to the original songs and did not cut anything out, which I can guarantee was appreciated by theater fans such as myself. Some numbers even cleverly began with the charismatic Master of Ceremonies, played by Lizzy Tartikoff, introducing the numbers.
SHOW STOPPER: Aby Josephson (’13) awed the audience with her amazing triple-threat performance. Photo By: Daniel In
Leading Ladies Aby Josephson as Velma Kelly and Ellie Beckman as Roxie Hart gave show-stopping performances. Both had some great laugh out loud comedy moments, and they also managed to blow away audience members with their powerful singing voices. The two had great chemistry as friends and partners in crime; Josephson even said, “We put a lot of heart and soul into the whole process and that’s what I think made it so wonderful–we worked so hard and I think it paid off.”
When asked how her overall experience working on Chicago was, Beckman said, “I could not have asked for a better senior show to be in, and to do it with all of my friends with whom I’ve been doing plays and musicals for most of my time at Archer was just the cherry on top.”
Other actors that gave memorable performances were Samantha Rosenwald as the sly Billy Flynn, Grace Fetterman as shy Amos Hart, and Sarah Eshaghian as the hilarious Matron Mama Morton. Each one of them definitely put their best foot forward and made the audience smile whenever they were onstage.
Personally, one of my favorite numbers was The Cell Block Tango. It managed to be fun, entertaining, and slightly frightening as you hear the stories of how various female criminals killed their husbands. Cell Block Tango girls Laina Chin, Kathleen Kelso, Carolyn Zaccaro, Cece McLennan, and Alexandria Choe gave dramatic and solid performances.
The ensemble members consisted of Nastaya Popov, Catherine Bergin, Mica Burton, Cora Cull, Benina Stern, Sophia Pendleton, Elizabeth O’Donnell, Olivia Bagg, and Chace Beech. Each one was a huge contributing factor to the show’s brilliance. All of them were clearly strong dancers and had beautiful, harmonic voices.
A LOTTA HART: Ellie Beckman (’12) gives it everything she’s got for her farewell performance at Archer.
Photo By: Daniel In
The choreography was dynamic and thoroughly entertaining. But by the looks of it, it was anything but easy. Josephson even told me how she and Beckman would spend “a lot of time after-school, during frees, even during winter break, practicing [their] dances non-stop.” Reed Farley, choreographer, did an excellent job of creating complex dance pieces that were flawlessly performed by the entire cast. Speaking as someone who cannot dance at all, I don’t know how they did it.
Director Ms. Poverstein and Assistant Director Emma Pauly exceeded all expectations. This was one of the liveliest, flawless, beautifully paced productions I feel Archer has ever done. They made Archer’s small stage feel like Carnage Hall with the seamless handling of each scene.
I can honestly say I am proud of this top notch, professional production that was truly a pleasure to watch. If you didn’t get the chance to see the show, boy did you miss out on something special. Who cares if it’s a few months late? If you’re in the hallways and you see someone from the cast or crew, take a second and congratulate them on their hard work.