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TF South Drama presents high school edition of Chicago

Evening performances November 14, 15, and 16; matinee November 17

by Jennifer Yos

LANSING, Ill. (November 4, 2019) – At the opening of the musical Chicago, the narrator informs the audience that they are “about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery.” With such adult content, how can a high school drama club present this musical appropriately for a general audience?

TF South Musical Director Doug Schlesser explains, “[Our production of] Chicago is a high school edition. Samuel French, the publisher, does not lease the rights to the full edition [of Chicago] to a high school for a correct reason.” According to the Samuel French website (samuelfrench.com), the high school edition of Chicago removes adult language and overly sexual references. “There are some risqué moments still,” adds Schlesser, “but it’s not the full version.”

The musical takes place in Chicago during the roaring twenties. Chorus girl Roxie Hart—played by junior Natalie Dominiac—murders her cheating lover and convinces her husband Amos to take the rap for her. That is, until he discovers her duplicity, and her consequential confession sends her to Cook County Jail. Vaudeville performer Velma Kelly—played by senior Angel Mclemore—is already an inmate there, and with the help of the cellblock Matron “Mama” Morton—played by sophomore Stefanie Marin—as her booking agent, and her lawyer Billy Flynn, Roxie hopes to make a big vaudeville comeback after an acquittal. Roxie and Velma compete against each other for media attention while in prison, hoping to sensationalize future prison-released careers.

From left: Angel Mclemore plays Velma Kelly, Natalie Dominiac plays Roxie Hart, and Stefanie Marin plays Matron “Mama” Morton in TF South’s upcoming production of Chicago. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

The original Broadway production of Chicago opened in 1975 and was revived in 1996, becoming the longest running American musical in Broadway history. The 2002 film version won the Academy Award for Best Picture. TF South Director Schlesser anticipates the audience will enjoy seeing student actors portray these iconic roles and make them their own. “Something that I really believe in is not being a carbon copy of a movie or a Broadway actor, but creating a role for yourself,” he explains.

TF South Drama Producer Ann Wolpert is also enthusiastic about this year’s production, especially with the help of TF South Choir Director Samantha Elliott and choreographers Nikki Dizon and Jake Ganzer. “We’ve got some great voices, the music sounds awesome, and the choreography is just off the hook. It’s really, really good because we’ve got kids who got trained last year from these folks doing Legally Blonde, so they got a year under their belt of having this kind of training, and now they’ve got it again, which is awesome.”

TF South Rebel Players take instruction from choreographer Jake Ganzer (downstage in ball cap) during rehearsal for their production of the musical Chicago. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

Opening night is Thursday, November 14, at 7:00pm at TF South’s Dr. Henry L. Hertz Auditorium. Evening performances continue Friday and Saturday, November 15 and 16, at 7:00 pm. The show closes with a Sunday matinee on November 17 at 2:00pm.

Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for students and seniors, and $5.00 for kids 13 and under. Patrons can bring two canned goods to be donated to the Lansing Food Pantry and receive $1.00 off their ticket price. Raffle basket tickets, concessions, flowers, and cast-grams can also be purchased in the lobby.

TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. The auditorium entrance is on the east side of the building.

Jennifer Yos
Jennifer Yos
Jennifer Yos grew up on Walter Street in Lansing with nine siblings. She attended St. Ann’s School and T.F. South, and she earned a BA in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a MS in Education: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Francis, Joliet. For 34 years she taught English, as well as Creative Writing and Drama, at Lincoln-Way High School. She dabbled in freelance journalism for the Joliet Herald News Living section. Now retired, Jennifer appreciates the opportunity to write for The Lansing Journal and is uplifted by the variety of positive people she has already met who are making a difference in Lansing.