Rehearsals have begun for the upcoming Delaware Hayes Thespians March production of “Chicago.”
The high school show is an adaptation of the popular Broadway musical which centers around two women in prison for murder and the lawyer attempting to get them acquitted.
Musical director Dara Gillis said she selected “Chicago” to intentional stand out from the last two musicals put on by the Thespians, “Shrek” and “Mary Poppins.”
“I wanted something completely different than the last few years,” Gillis said. “I wanted to stretch the students in their acting and dancing, and I think it’s a really good fit.”
Gillis said the production will be a “toned down” version of the musical, but added fans of the musical or the 2002 film will find a lot to enjoy.
Protagonist Roxie Hart will be played by senior and veteran thespian Hailey Wright, who said she was already lamenting that this is her final performance at Hayes.
“It’s almost not real,” Wright said. “When I started doing this, I was a freshman in a musical. I was looking up to all these great actors who had amazing voices and such tight relationships with the directors and everyone else, and now (I’m in) their positions, if you can even put me close to them. I didn’t think it would come so quick. I’m really going to miss it.”
Wright said at this point in her Hayes career, she isn’t nervous at all for the performances.
“This is second nature,” she said. “I love it so much. It’s what makes me happy. I’m really excited.”
The other lead of the show, Velma Kelly, will be played by senior Alexia Dicke, who said “Chicago” will be her second musical performance at Hayes.
“I’m just very excited for everything, because I have a lead this year. I know there’s a lot of dance, and I love to dance and sing and everything. I just wanted to be in the musical. I wasn’t looking forward to being a lead or anything, and then I saw the cast list and saw my name and was thrilled to have a part.”
Dicke said even though she has plenty of experience with music, singing and dance, she’s still nervous.
“A lot of other people wanted the role, so it was very competitive and I need to live up to expectations. Mrs. Gillis knows I can handle it, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s nerve-wracking.”
Wright will be playing opposite junior Aidan Ferguson, who co-stars as Hart’s naive but devoted husband, Amos. Ferguson, who played a lead role in the Delaware Hayes Thespians’ 2019 production of “The Crucible,” said the serious acting he did in that show will improve his performance in “Chicago.”
“I’m definitely more confident with my dialog and monologue skills but for this, I’m excited because my singing is something I haven’t done in front of everybody,” he said.
Ferguson said he is looking forward to working with the cast and developing friendships.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie within the cast, and it’s fun to enjoy your family away from family,” Ferguson said.
Evelyn Mignanou, a sophomore, said she didn’t do the musical last year but did musicals before high school and is excited to jump back in as a member of the ensemble.
“I’m really looking forward to being part of the production, because it’s my first high school production,” Mignanou said. “I’m a little nervous.”
Another newcomer this year is freshman George Callendine, who plays Harry in the show.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” Callendine said. “I’m really excited for a different experience. I want to learn and expand as a dancer. I’ve never really done that.”
Sophomore Meg Smart, who will be one of the costume designers for show, said she’s excited to dress the cast in the style of the 1920s, when the show is set.
“The roaring 20s are coming back this decade, so I find it kind of cool,” Smart said.
One of the busiest members of the cast will be senior Maddie Hatton, who plays a narrator as well as several ensemble characters.
“After our first rehearsal I was like, ‘Okay, this is going to be a great challenge for me,’ because I have to play four different roles and I have to learn every part for certain scenes,” Hatton said. “It’ll be a challenge to me to learn a little bit of everything. My first reaction was, ‘What am I doing?,’ but now I’m ready to go.”
Hatton said she has mixed emotions about this being her last show at Hayes.
“I’m a little bit of everything,” she said. “This is a fantastic senior show. It’s such a big show with a small cast but then this is it, so of course I feel a little sad. But I’m looking forward to this big finish.”
Gillis said tickets will go on sale in February for the March 19, March 20, and the two March 21 performances.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.