With two months of rehearsals down and one to go, preparations for KO’s production of “Chicago” are in full swing. Kyle Reynolds, theatre director, along with his dedicated cast have been putting in up to eight hours of rehearsal time per day for a show that has been described as “one you will want to see multiple times” by cast members.
“Chicago” is an American musical classic set in Chicago in the 1930s. The Broadway revival is the longest running American-musical in Broadway history. Centered around main characters Roxy and Velma, this show tells a tale of crime, intrigue, and deceit.
“The play dives into how they manipulate, story-tell and use their musicality to really fluff, or perhaps change, reality,” said Mr. Reynolds. Sophomore Olivia Pear who plays June, describes “Chicago” as a Broadway classic. “There are blood and murder but there are also softer songs and love stories too,” said Olivia. “It’s everything you need in a show.”
It all started when Mr. Reynolds picked “Chicago.” “I like to get input from Todd Millen, my department chair, Caroline McKee, [director of the Upper School], Will Gillyard, [dean of students], and Joan Edwards, [director of diversity and inclusion] because I want to make sure I am picking a show that works well for the entirety of the Upper School,” said Mr. Reynolds. However, picking “Chicago” was no easy task. Kingswood Oxford has applied for the rights to Chicago 10 times and has been denied each time. However, the 11th time’s the charm for KO and Mr. Reynolds couldn’t be more excited. “It is a really big deal that we have the opportunity to put it on,” he said.
It seems like Mr. Reynolds made a great choice based on the response he received after announcing “Chicago” as this year’s winter musical.
Faculty, staff, and students alike all seem excited about this performance. Theatre students seem especially enthusiastic. “I was so excited when I heard it was Chicago,” said junior Remy McCoy, who plays the lead, Roxy. “It is one of my favorite musicals.” Senior Kate Brough, who plays lead Velma was surprised “Chicago” is this year’s musical. “I didn’t think we would ever get the rights to it,” Kate said.
Mr. Reynolds and prospective cast members geared up for auditions as soon as school got back from Thanksgiving break. Senior Dan Carroll, who plays lead Billy Flynn, felt that the audition process this year was different than in the past.
“The audition process relied heavily on dancing, which I was certainly not used to and I don’t think I was alone in that feeling,” Dan said. He also noted that anxiety was high because no one had any experience with what Mr. Reynolds looks for. “My immediate thought is the best fit for the role,” said Mr. Reynolds. “I think that seniority might be a little birdy in the back of my head, but training and technique outway seniority for me.”
When casting was done, the 39 member cast moved right into rehearsals the next week. The rehearsal schedule has been called “intense” by the director and cast members. Rehearsals range from one hour up to eight hours on weekends.
Mr. Reynolds describes their rehearsals as a “triple-threat schedule.” Cast members are singing, dancing, and acting the entire time. “They might be dancing with me for two hours, then they go sing for an hour, then they come back to me and we block a scene and then they go sing something else,” said Mr. Reynolds.
Remy also said that they have packed rehearsals. “There is a lot of dancing in Chicago, so a lot of our rehearsals have been dancing,” she said.
Junior Joey Fago and sophomore Sadie Margolis were chosen as the dance captains. “We lead the warm-ups and we help people further their knowledge of the dance style,” said Sadie.
Cast members agree that rehearsals have been better than ever due to Mr. Reynold’s leadership style. “He runs it like it’s a professional theater, which I really like,” said Remy. Kate appreciates how Mr. Reynolds helps the performers dig deeper into scenes. “Mr. Reynolds sets aside time to do in-depth scene analysis, to think about why we are saying the things we are saying, and what our character wants in the scene,” Kate said.
Mr. Reynolds and his cast are planning on continuing to work hard every day rehearsing “Chicago” until their first show on Feb. 22. After their initial in-school performance for all students, they have a second performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 and a matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Cast members could not be more excited to perform. Sadie and Remy look forward to the crowd’s response, while Olivia is excited for everyone to see how hard they have been working. Kate is especially excited for everyone to see their opening number, “All That Jazz.”
Mr. Reynolds is sure this production will be a hit. “I don’t think I need to get them excited. I think they are going to be excited about it themselves,” he said.