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Chicago - High School Version

  • 1.  Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-12-2019 11:17
    I am thinking of doing Chicago this next year.   I love the show and I have the actors that could play the roles.  I was wondering if anyone did it this past year and what size houses did you play to?  How was it received?  

    I can play in a very nice 500 seat theatre, or our cafeteria that can seat around 150 per night.     

    Please let me know what you think.

    Robyn Metchik
    Nipomo High School Theatre Co

  • 2.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-13-2019 08:05
    I have seen a high school production of Chicago and it was a bit jarring to watch teenage girls sing "Cell Block Tango", amid the other violent and racy content in the musical. Before committing to doing the show, I suggest giving some thought to how a group of teenagers singing about how they killed their boyfriends/husbands will be received in your community. Personally, I would never produce Chicago in a high school. There are many other musicals that are appropriate for a wide pool of casting talent and for grandmothers to watch. I'd like to add that I've directed many musicals, including Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray that have challenging/mildly violent content, just to share that I'm not saying we shouldn't present challenging material to our students and audiences.

    Karen Moody
    English/Theatre Teacher
    King William VA

  • 3.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-14-2019 13:05
    I could not, and from what I here from other schools (plus what I recall of the show) I would not do Chicago. I'm sure the students would love it, but the parents and grandparents would not.

    I have carefully cultivated a reputation of staying within certain boundaries. So much so that the admins, up through the superintendent, trust if I want to do something a bit challenging. Asking to do Chicago, or In The Heights, and so on, would ruin that.

    That's just me.

    Michael Corliss
    Livonia MI

  • 4.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-17-2019 16:01
    We produced Chicago a number of years ago and performed it at The International Thespian Festival.  Our production was classic black/white, red if you're dead, Fosse.  I would not move from You Can't Take It With You (a fun show) type shows to Chicago.  If you have done Shakespeare in all his bloody glory, your students and audience might be ready for the challenge and your students for the educational opportunity that Chicago presents.  Fosse is a style they should know.  It is really you who must examine your own school community.  We just closed She Kills Monsters (NOT the Young Adventure's version) in April.  We handled the issues with professionalism and respect and the show was VERY well received.  If you question that your community can handle it, perhaps that is a warning, but do not be afraid.  If you have a reputation for quality productions, ask yourself what would your community say to a quality production.  (All that being said, I will never produce Legally Blonde at my school. :-) )

    [William] [Myatt] [Director of Theatre]

    [Pleasant Valley High School]


  • 5.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-14-2019 15:48
    I've considered producing Chicago. I discussed the violent content with my students. They argued how violent the male characters are in the Shakespeare plays we've performed and no one questions it. They also believe the high school version doesn't have to be as sexually provocative as the original. Still considering...

  • 6.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-15-2019 15:36
    Did it about five years ago and had close to a full house each night - people know the show and will come out for it. We toned down the sexuality - no provocative choreography and we had modest costumes. The audience loved it and there was no backlash or complaints. I did put in a sly sentence in the director's note about my students being smart enough to know that the show was a satire. With the Kardashians and other people who are famous for stupid reasons, the show is just as relevant as ever. If it fits your talent pool and the admin is okay with it, do it - the kids will have a blast with the roles.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 7.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-16-2019 13:13
    Hi there,
    We just did Chicago the Musical High School version in February.  It was very well received as the songs and story are very well known.  We played to a theatre that supported 450 in seats and were pretty much sold out 3/4 shows with the matinee being less.  The kids LOVED it, and the results and comments were very well received.  
    We did a slightly different take on it, and instead of doing the tradition black and red skimpy outfits that revealed a lot, we did different costuming and moved away from using the black and red looks.  We instead did some research and found that Chicago was the home of the 1894 World Expo and so we took a steampunk approach to it.  The kids were dressed in corseted outfits with flowy dresses and steampunk hats.  The Expo also had the first Guiselaar tube exposition which was the beginning of the moving image, and we used projected shadows to represent this portion of history.  We also colour coded the kids outfits to match the emotion of the murder.  Green for envy, red for passion, white for innocence etc. 

    The kids got a real kick out if it, the parents thought it fabulous... but honestly the kids see far worse in violence and issues on tv that what is represented in the HS version of Chicago. The HS version tones down the overt sexuality and cuts out some songs completely.  It focuses more on the idea of the selfish nature of the characters rather than the adultery and murders.  I found it to be an excellent choice for the show.  Highly suggest it. 

    We did a parental warning and advisory about the content in our ticket sales, and suggested that it be a PG13 version.  Lots of people came and told us that we were too cautious with our advisory and that most of the content was very much subdued.   We were nominated for 13 different awards at our local celebrations of all HS shows in the area... so it was a pretty good turnout!

    Juanita McGarrigle
    Theatre Director
    St.Albert AB

  • 8.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-17-2019 14:08
    Wow, that looks amazing, Juanita!

    The high school version of CHICAGO is framed more as a story about greed and fame. I always recommend that teachers bring their production design concepts with them to any approval meetings with their administration, as it's important to show that CHICAGO: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION can be visually different than the film or famous Broadway/national tour productions.

    Rosemary Bucher
    Educational Theatre Licensing Coordinator
    Samuel French, a Concord Theatricals Company
    New York, NY

  • 9.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-20-2019 11:39
    Greetings!  Chicago is great!  We did the full version (not the high school version) in the March 2016 - it was a huge hit with the students (grade 6-12) and the parents!  Our administration is supportive and trusts my choices.  The show should focus on how we treat CELEBRITIES different than others, FAME, and GREED.  It is a look at how the media and the people crown their favorites.  

    We did the black outfits  - not super skimpy, but a little suggestive.  The theme of CELEBRITY, FAME & GREED was mentioned in our rehearsals, the director's note, and the curtain speech - making it clear this was not about glorifying, but about reflecting on the theme.

    Good luck - it's a blast!

    [Becky Beth [Benedict]
    [Theater Teacher, Director & Arts Dept Chair]
    [The MacDuffie School
    [Granby] [MA]

  • 10.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 06-20-2019 11:40
    Oh - and we had sold out houses every night - with a waiting list!

    [Becky Beth [Benedict]
    [Theater Teacher, Director & Arts Dept Chair]
    [The MacDuffie School
    [Granby] [MA]

  • 11.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 05-30-2023 09:26

    I'm curious if 4 years later you would still support the performance of Chicago in a high school.  I would like to do it next year, but my co-director is concerned about the themes in today's reality of frequent/ nearly daily mass tragedy.  She worries that we send the message that we condone the actions and activities of the characters in our productions.  

    Meghen Pitts

  • 12.  RE: Chicago - High School Version

    Posted 05-30-2023 11:06

    Not to be a jerk, but that's kind of missing the point of Chicago and theatremaking in general. We see how ridiculous these characters are and how their behavior doesn't get them what they want. I'd hope that your rehearsal process allows for extensive character discussions so your students understand the ways they are different from their characters. 

    I understand this is educational theatre and you want to handle show selection sensitively and that this particular play isn't for all schools. But if your co-director only wants to do shows with characters that they find morally responsible, they're going to have limited show choices.

    Becca Lillias