Chicago The Musical Debuts at MHS

The MHS Theater Department returns to the stage with a lively rendition of Chicago on March 3rd-5th.


Photo Courtesy of Elyse Mullen

The cast of Chicago rehearsing a the Cell Block Tango musical number in the MHS auditorium.

Larissa Bertini, A&L Page Editor

The school musical will be making its debut on March 3rd through March 5th. The musical this year will be “Chicago,” a dark comedy set in the Jazz Age. It tells the dramatized story of a real-life murder and trial and the lengths to which some people would go to achieve fame. The show includes iconic numbers like “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle.” The cast is more excited than ever since it will be their first time back on stage in over two years after the musical last year was canceled due to COVID-19. According to Ella Barnes (‘22), “Elyse Mullen (formerly Ms. Gellert) is the director and the conductor of the pit orchestra, Allison Parsley is the choreographer, Michael Mastroianni and Amanda Gundling are the music directors, and Layla Hoffmann and Laura Neilson are the student choreographers.”
Barnes has participated in school musicals throughout high school. She has been resilient given all the challenges faced due to COVID restrictions. Despite COVID-19, she feels that “not much has changed, other than the fact that we’re all wearing masks during rehearsals. In fact, we’ve thrown ourselves into rehearsals even more because of the lost time – we want to do the show justice and make it the absolute best it can be.” One of the biggest changes since pre-COVID times seems to be the mask mandate. While the audience is still required to wear masks, the plan as of right now is for the cast to perform without masks on. This procedure is similar to the one used by Broadway and other touring productions.
Layla Hoffmann (‘22) is another lead in the play who feels similarly to Barnes. She says that having to wear a mask does pose a problem, since acting revolves around facial expressions, but they were able to get past that, and “over the course of the rehearsal process we have adjusted to wearing them more and more, so now they feel a bit more normal.” Another problem that COVID-19 has brought to the musical is the quarantining of cast members, which results in them missing rehearsals. Regardless of the restrictions, they have prevailed and are working hard to put on an amazing performance. Barnes is beyond ecstatic to get back and often has to “stop and question if this is real life – it’s a little taste of normalcy.”
This year’s show is a very special one because it is a female-led show. “[It’s] very refreshing to have so many strong actresses onstage at the same time, especially since the last show – Singing in the Rain – was very male-heavy,” says Barnes. She describes an overall positive feeling from her castmates, who are grateful to get back to what they love doing the most and being able to perform in front of a live audience. This has pushed the cast to be extra dedicated this year, and they are “all committed to being the absolute best that we can be,” according to Barnes.
Make sure you buy your tickets and support the hardworking cast and crew members. “Chicago is a show that a lot of people can enjoy. Whether you like comedy, dancing, or singing, there’s something for everyone,” says Hoffmann.