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Glamour and crime on center stage in Fairfax High School’s ‘Chicago’

Leslie Zapiain, a student at Seton School, reviews “Chicago” performed by Fairfax High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

FX_Chicago_c_red.jpg

Fairfax High School’s Mikail Faalasli, Ann Sung, Rachel Fernades and Rosalie Altieri. (Photo by Dan Cottle)

Chicago in the ‘20s—a city of love, lust, ambition and adultery, and where almost anyone can get away with murder, was recently brought to life on Fairfax High School’s stage. "Chicago" is a satirical musical mocking Chicago’s corrupt judicial system. Journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins originally wrote the story in 1926. Nearly 50 years later, John Kander and Fred Ebb adapted the story into a musical with the help of director-choreographer Bob Fosse, who also wrote the score. It retells the story of a real murder that Watkins had encountered during her years as a reporter.

Roxie Hart (Anne Norland) was thrust into the world of crime after she murdered her ex-lover, Fred Casely. She quickly adapted to jail life thanks to the hospitality of Matron “Mama” Morton (Maddy Goubeaux) and no thanks to fellow murderer Velma Kelly (Ally Dawson). Billy Flynn (Mikail Faalasli) introduces Roxie to a life of fame and infamy at the expense of her husband Amos (Brandon Tuohy), who is ultimately persuaded to divorce her for publicity reasons.

The stories of sins by former Chicago inhabitants dazzled Fairfax's audience, particularly in the crime scene. As the show progressed, the actors got into rhythm and performed a solid interpretation of the well-known musical.

Norland, as Roxie, showed a clear and believable progression from a whiney, but naïve adulteress to a more experienced, fame-seeking leading lady. Her performance was crisp and energetic, complete with clear enunciation and well-developed vocals. Dawson was able to do more than pull off the cantankerous character of Velma. She sealed her interpretation with a voice that soared during “All That Jazz” and “Class.” As Mama Morton, Goubeaux captured the audience with her humorous adlibs and vibrant stage presence.

Faalasli and Tuohy stood out among the show’s supporting men. Faalasli delivered a believable portrayal of Billy Flynn with a consistent accent and humorous facial expressions. Equally compelling, Tuohy played the role of Roxie’s lovable, but pathetic husband, Amos. Cameos by Shakil Azizi and John Miller filled out the rest of Fairfax’s cast.

In addition to performing, Goubeaux also headed the hair and makeup teams. She succeeded in making the actors appear from that time period. The orchestra, meanwhile, accentuated the performance by keeping in time and in tune throughout.

For one night, Fairfax High School dwarfed any neighborhood problems that Northern Virginians might have by giving them a swig of prohibition-era Chicago.

By Leslie Zapiain, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  May 9, 2010; 9:28 PM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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