CHICAGO opens Thursday night
CHICAGO opens Thursday night

Prepare to be razzle-dazzled when Cincinnati Country Day School's Drama Department presents the Tony award-winning musical, CHICAGO, on Feb. 21-23.

More than 55 cast and crew members, along with Director Lisa Bodollo, Technical Director Evan DiTullio and Vocal and Orchestra Director Stephanie Wietmarschen are working hard for opening night.

CHICAGO is Bodollo's favorite musical to direct, but she waited until the timing was right. This was the year when students, who started in theater as freshmen, continued their passion through sophomore, junior and senior years.

"It's a fun show, but it's not one you want to do right away, jumping into a new school, because you don't your talent," Bodollo said. "This musical takes a lot of acting chops. You're going to need some dancers, and you're definitely going to need singers, so you definitely have to work your way up to a project like this. After four years, I thought we were ready."

In roaring twenties Chicago, chorus girl Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap – until he finds out he's been duped and turns on Roxie.

Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie and one of the most famous "Merry Murderesses," Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the American Dream: fame, fortune and an acquittal. This sharp-edged satire features a dazzling score that sparked immortal staging by Bob Fosse.

Bodollo likes CHICAGO because of the strength of the women. "They're all horrible people, because they killed people, but it also shows how we humans are so easily manipulated. Billy Flynn comes off as an incredible lawyer, which he is, but he's able to manipulate everyone, and the only people who actually are hurt in the show are the good people."

"So, it's a whole twist. It's not that I think it has a good moral message at the end. It just shows what humans can do, and if we're not careful, we could end up like that," Bodollo said. "I've always told people that there are some not so great people in the world that we can learn from, but maybe learn to be better."

As usual, Bodollo has made a few tweaks in the musical. "We probably didn't go as scantily clad as they do in the movie or other productions, but I think we did a really fun job with the costuming, taking that 1920s period and finding some neat elements to add."

For example, the Pit Orchestra is comprised of instruments heard frequently in 1920s Jazz – keys, reeds, brass, drums, banjo, violin and bass. Upper School science teacher Matt Dahl will play banjo and mandolin. Senior Mose Hatcher will play the bass, and junior Jason Zhang will play the violin.

The show doesn't require many props or much furniture and scenery. "It's basically a play within a play. There's a little bit of Shakespeare with that," Bodollo said. "The dancing is great, and every song is a hit. If you don't know all the songs from CHICAGO, at least you've heard them. I think that's the familiarity piece that's going to be fun for the audience."

The actors and technical crew have enthusiastically embraced the musical, she said. "They're extremely dedicated, and it'll show. The seniors are leaving, so it's a nice swan song for them."

And, it's a milestone for Bodollo. CHICAGO is her 70th full-length production that she's directed. Congratulations!

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. in the school's John Whitman Keeler Theater, 6905 Given Road. The musical is suitable for children 13 and up. For tickets, visit Admission is $8 for students and $10 for adults.

-Cindy Kranz