Everything You Need to Know Before Seeing ‘Chicago’

The production will be showing February 17, 18, and 19.


The cast of BHS’ ‘Chicago’ production prepares for their show in a dress rehearsal. Image from BHS Eagle Way Theatre Company on Instagram.

Amelia Solmos, Staff Writer - Copy Editor

What is Chicago about?

According to Broadway.com, Chicago takes place during the roaring 20s and follows the rivalry between two vaudevillian (see below) murderesses locked up in Cook County jail: Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart.

Velma is a nightclub star serving time for killing her husband and sister after finding the two in bed together.

Roxie is a chorus girl who killed Fred Casely, the man she was cheating on her husband with. In hopes of creating a murder-of-the-week media frenzy, Velma enlists the help of Mama Morton, the prison matron, and the famous lawyer, Billy Flynn.

However, Roxie has a few ideas on how to get the attention away from Velma and back onto herself.

What is ‘Fosse’?

Fosse is a style of dance named after Bob Fosse, a dancer and choreographer with a distinct style. He reshaped the aesthetics of modern musical theater, characterizing his style through its “slow, angular sensuality,” according to Refinery 29.

Fosse moves are very distinct with the “curved shoulders, turned-in knees, bowler hats, punctuated hand movements, finger snaps, sideways shuffling,” as well as the classic jazz hands. While he did not invent jazz hands, he brought them to the forefront and is now commonly associated with them.

What is vaudeville?

In the early 19th century, vaudeville became the most popular form of entertainment in America and was an essential part of every community. According to PBS, it was made up of more than 25,000 performers ranging from “comedians, singers, plate-spinners, ventriloquists, dancers, musicians, acrobats to animal trainers,” and more.

Once an act tested well in front of audiences, the performer would consistently repeat the show in front of others. Many of the key performers from this time became famous and known by their signature act. In Chicago, Velma’s signature was the double act she and her sister performed.

“Vaudeville’s attraction was more than simply a series of entertaining sketches. It was symbolic of the cultural diversity of early twentieth-century America… Though certainly not free from the prejudice of the times, vaudeville was the earliest entertainment form to cross racial and class boundaries. For many, vaudeville was the first exposure to the cultures of people living right down the street,” PBS said.

What is that one girl saying?

Katalin Hunyak, the “Uh-Uh” in Cell Block Tango, speaks Hungarian. Compared to the other murder mistresses, she is actually innocent. When she speaks her monologue, she is really saying, “How did I find myself here? They say my famous lover (neighbor?) held down my husband and I cut his head off. But it’s not true. I am innocent. I don’t know why Uncle Sam says I did it. I tried to explain at the police station but they didn’t understand.” This translation was featured in an article on BroadwayBox.

When she says, “Uncle Sam,” she is not referring to an actual uncle, but rather the U.S.A. Uncle Sam is a term that has long been used to describe America, so in totality, she is speaking on being locked up by the prison system all because no one understands what she is saying.

Is Broomfield’s production the same as the original?

In some aspects, yes, but in others, no. The plot is essentially the same, but the high school version is more age-appropriate and cuts out a lot of the more risque details.

“The high school edition of Chicago takes out a lot of the inappropriate language. It also took out two songs that could be considered offensive,” said Mrs. Bryner, the director of the production.

Is Chicago based on a true story?

According to Broadway in Chicago, Chicago “is based on the 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, the reporter assigned to cover the 1924 trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. Watkins loosely based Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn, and other characters in the play on the individuals involved in these famed Chicago courtroom proceedings.” Although many details align between the musical and the trial, not everything completely matches up.

What is proper theater etiquette?

“Turn off your cell phone, don’t send text messages during the show, eat dinner before the show or after the show, not during the show. Don’t be disruptive. Make sure that you exit to use the restroom during intermission. But if you have to go during the show you should go when there is a blackout. Not in the middle of a song,” said Mrs. Bryner.

Who plays who?

The main characters are:
Sydney James, 12, as Velma Kelly
Evelyn Hanes, 12, as Roxie Hart
Calder Moore, 10, as Billy Flynn
Evan Hickerson, 11, as Amos Hart
Jackie Wells, 12, as Matron “Mama” Morton
Rayn Oakley, 12, as Fred Casely
Juliana Mahan-Kuik, 9, as Mary Sunshine
Elliott Sickels, 11, as “Pop”
Rachel Harris, 12, as “Six”
Lilly Dragge, 12, as “Squish”
Amelia Solmos, 12, as “Uh-Uh”
Sabrina Bogoger, 10, as “Lipschitz”

Come see Broomfield High School’s production of Chicago on February 17, 18, and 19. Tickets can be purchased online through RevTrak, at the door, or through performers in the play. For students and seniors, tickets are $10. For adults, they are $15.