Saturday, March 5, 2016

Razzle Dazzle 'Em

        Last night was filled with fishnet stockings and pouty red lips – so no, not our usual Friday night. 

       We went to a local performance of “Chicago,” a high school production, and an ambitious one at that, with professional musicians providing the brassy accompaniment as students belted out “All That Jazz” and “Hot Honey Rag” for all they were worth.  

          We were at a private boarding school in our area, where over half of the student body is drawn from Cambodia, Turkey, China, and other eastern countries. This was our second play there, and again I was impressed by kids who not only set aside the usual crippling teen-age self-consciousness to perform, but many who did it in an unfamiliar language. 

          The school tries to choose plays with parts for the greatest number of students possible, and this was no exception, with 38 performers hoofing it across the stage. The kids were all great. If the girl playing Velma Kelly isn’t on Broadway before ten years have passed, I’ll eat my feather boa, and while Roxie Hart consistently sang off-key, she did it with non-stop enthusiasm. 

          What took a little getting used to was that this production stayed true to creators Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, with more hip-grinding than two seasons of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. “Son of a bitch!” and “No good bastard!” flew back and forth across the stage, and sixteen year-olds sang about life in the fast lane and finding their men not ménage a trois, but quatre.

          It made me wonder if this was what the parents had in mind when they sent their fresh-faced children off to America; last night these teens and one or two pre-teens were striking poses in heels, black spandex, and scarlet lips. 

          It also made me wonder what the previous tenants of the facility, the St. Hyacinth Seminary, would think of all this.


  1. We do have more to choose from than super liberal culture stuff...I hope. Since these children come from elsewhere, I would hope that they get a broader perspective of our theater culture.

  2. Oh what fun.
    And I really, really hope that the students will remember it with affection and pride in the years to come.
    If the previous tenants don't like it, tough luck.

  3. I do wish when I was in high school I would have had an opportunity like this. I would have taken it in a New York minute! :-)

  4. For each generation we make changes. After three generations there's a lot of changes. Kids can put on some excellent shows.

  5. Sounds like a fantastic performance :D

  6. Ha! My daughter went to Holy Names in Seattle, and was in a Missoula Children's Theater production in Seattle. Her senior year she was the master of ceremonies in Caberet. I sat next to two teenage boys. One exclaimed, when my daughter came onstage in heels and fishnet stockings, "Wow!" I looked at him, caught his eye, said "Shut up".
    I hope the kids had a good time, and learned a bit.

  7. Ha! When I was in school we almost always did Rogers & Hammerstein -- always a safe bet, culturally speaking. But I think it's great that school theater departments are being braver these days. Our school did both "The Drowsy Chaperone" and "Avenue Q" not too many years ago, and both are fairly risqué. You just can't take it too seriously. Good fun for the kids and the audiences!

  8. school productions were oh so tame when I was in school. I doubt being in this production will set those kids on the road to ruin. they're just having fun in their fishnet stockings, black spandex, and red lips, something they will probably never do or wear in their real lives. as risque as it seems, it doesn't hold a candle to what they see on TV commercials every day where nearly naked women are pouting and practically having sex with a car or a hamburger.

  9. Glad you enjoyed it. Lots of work goes into a production, and casting this one was no exception. High schools'drama teachers try to match their audience'so and students'interests as well as the opportunities such a play provides to stretch staff and crew and productions to match what the real world is like. Believe me, they had many discussions before settling on this choice.


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