By Kate Ferrell | Staff Writer
Of all the theatre shows that I have seen Xavier Theatre produce, Chicago may be my favorite by a long shot. Not only did the production have an all star cast, but it also had a dazzling set, beautiful costumes and an immersive performance that left the audience wanting more.
Chicago is a musical set in the bustling Chicago of the 1920s. The story follows young Velma, Billy Flinn and Roxie Hart, an aspiring performer jailed for the murder of the man she was having an affair with, Fred Casely. Hart uses her newfound fame in the papers to propel herself forward, highlighting the vanity of her character and the flaws of the U.S. justice system all in one fell swoop. While Chicago is a classic musical that has been put on thousands of times, Xavier brought a new energy to it unlike anything else I have ever seen.
The clear star of this show was Kelsey Schwarber, the actress that played Roxie Hart. Schwarber’s performance as the seemingly innocent Hart was one for the books. Not only was she likeable in the sense that it was a shame every time she left the stage, but her angelic and powerful voice filled the entirety of the Gallagher Theatre.
Picking just one standout performance to commemorate was so extremely difficult. Chicago may have been one of the best cast shows I have seen grace the Xavier stage. Other commendable performances include Ellie Deutch as Velma Kelly, Andy Girmann as Amos Hart and Max Carlson as Billy Flynn. All of these performers brought so much to the stage and undoubtedly deserved the standing ovation they received from the audience both nights I was in attendance.
Highlighting the leads of Chicago is easy to do, but those who are often looked over and deserve recognition are the ensemble members of the cast. The ensemble of Chicago deserves so much praise for the sheer amount of work they did on the stage. Every group number was packed full of high energy dances that looked exhausting to watch. One ensemble member, Jo Dearman, who played Hunyak, a Cook County Jail inmate, even spoke Hungarian the entire show, and did it flawlessly.
Other Xavier students that were in attendance to the show sang the shows praises as well. Junior Psychology major Emma Bruggeman was happy to share her thoughts after one of the performances. “I had never seen a show like this before, or the movie. I thought it was really upbeat and really entertaining throughout and I really really enjoyed it.”
Much like every other Xavier show that I have been to, I left Chicago mesmerized and happy with my decision to purchase tickets for two nights, even though they were an outrageous 13 dollars each. Xavier once again put on a fabulous production that razzled and dazzled all who saw it. As a known fan and critic of Xavier Theatre productions, I cannot wait to see what else they present this season.