The student news site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School

The New Dealer

The student news site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School

The New Dealer

The student news site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School

The New Dealer

FDR’s Theatre Company Presents: CHICAGO!!


Who could’ve thought that a murder would inspire an award winning Broadway musical and film? I’ll do you one better: Who would’ve imagined this production would be adapted and performed in FDR itself? Chicago, written by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb, first premiered on Broadway in 1975, on June 3rd, and it is now considered to be the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. This popular musical was later adapted into a film which was released on December 27, 2002, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere. This production was inspired by Beulah Annan, a woman who was charged with the murder of her boyfriend, Harry Kalstedt, in 1924. Beulah first confessed to the murder, then claimed she shot him in an act of self defense, fearing she would be assaulted. However, she later changed her story, admitting she killed him in anger after he told her he was leaving her. This story draws a parallel to that of Roxie’s from Chicago, as she does and claims the exact same thing.

When the movie version of Chicago was released, many people were both excited and skeptical, as film adaptations often do not fully capture the aura of the original plays. However, compared to other movie adaptations, this film is said to properly embody and represent the themes and moods of the production itself. This feature also received countless awards, including being the first musical to win the Oscar for Best Picture in 2002. Nevertheless, it was concluded by Culture Writer Jess Rushton that Chicago is better “suited to the stage.” So what is Chicago? Simply stated, Chicago takes place in the Roaring Twenties where two women, an aspiring performer, and an already fading vaudeville star, each face trial for murder. The two women, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, seek help from a questionable lawyer who assures them that they would both be cleared of their charges and earn celebrity status. This production is centered around the idea that the American judicial system is just a show. It does not actually seek the truth, nor does it intend to serve justice to the wronged, rather it is about appealing to the jury and only presenting favorable and beneficial facts, thus contributing to the play’s satirical connotation.

As mentioned before, this musical will be performed at FDR. But how? In what ways was this play adapted for FDR? Fortunately, an exclusive interview, with the school’s director of this production, Amanda Porter, was conducted, where you will be able to gain an insight into her unique perspective and standpoint as well as a better understanding of the restrictions and standards that were met in order to present this performance.

Q: What inspired you, or why did you choose to present Chicago this school year?

A: I chose Chicago this year because it was the right musical for us based on the students who auditioned. For me, I always want to make sure I am picking a show that will showcase the talents of the students involved, and it just seemed like the right fit this year.

Q: In what ways have you adapted certain aspects of this performance in order to meet certain expectations and overcome obstacles?

A: I never want to copy someone else’s direction, but I also always want to be respectful to the original creators and their intent. I have tried to blend together a nod to Bob Fosse, Walter Bobbie, and Ann Reinking while also exploring the script for my own take on the musical.

Q: What were some difficulties you and your team, including cast members, faced in the process of the production?

A: The challenges are always working around schedules to make sure students can participate in something as time consuming as theatre, while also having time for school work and other extracurricular activities. We also came up with some new tech ideas we haven’t tried before, so we’ve been exploring how to make new theatre magic happen.

Q: Do you believe there is a moral to this story? If so, what in your opinion is it? 

A: The show is less about teaching a moral and more about shining a satirical light on the theatrical nature of the justice system and the allure of celebrity, even when it comes from notorious and infamous behavior. We still see that today in televised trials and viral moments on social media. The thing that draws me to Chicago is that the themes are just as relevant today as they were in the 1920s when it was set, the 1970s when it was written, and the 1990s when it became a hit revival on Broadway.

Q: What do you believe most contributes to Chicago’s popularity and widespread acknowledgement? 

A: Similar to my previous response – it’s still relevant today.

Q: In what ways does this play differ from those of prior years performed in FDR?

A: Chicago has a lot more dancing in it than we have had in years past. I am also trying to incorporate more technical elements than some previous shows have had.

Q: Would you recommend people to watch this musical? Why?

A: I hope everyone comes to see the show and support FDR Theatre. Many long hours go into creating a show. I would love for the students in the cast and crew to see lots of support from students and staff because their hard work deserves to be seen, appreciated, and acknowledged.

Chicago will be performed on the following dates and times:

  • April 3rd, Wednesday at 5pm
  • April 4th, Thursday at 5pm
  • April 5th, Friday at 7pm
  • April 6th, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm

If you are interested in viewing these performances, do not hesitate to do so! FDR’s Theatre Company has worked hard throughout the year to present this musical and, just like many performances in the past, this year’s Chicago is bound to amaze the audience.

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