Chicago at NDA: Recap


Give ‘em the ole razzle dazzle!

That is exactly what the performers of the 2018-2019 NDA school musical, Chicago, did this past November. For the previous two and a half months, girls from all grades assembled every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to practice combinations of singing, dancing, and acting. Rehearsals were long, but they were always full of fun. Even on Sundays (known as “Super Sundays”), the cast would assemble for five or six hours to rehearse. Everyone worked tirelessly to put on a wonderful show.

Chicago follows the story of murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly as they try to prove themselves innocent. The musical gives insight into the 1920s, also known as the Roaring 20s. Known for flappers, short dresses, energetic dancing, and of course, jazz music, the 20s was full of energy as reflected in the show. Chicago’s most notable songs are “All that Jazz”, “Cell Block Tango”, “When You’re Good to Mama”, and “Razzle Dazzle.”

Each rehearsal was led by student director Clare Adamczyk ‘20, stage director Clare Kennedy ‘20, musical director Mrs. Dawson, and director Ms. Russell. They worked with the 25 actresses to coordinate songs, lines, and stage directions. The show was full of life, energy, and laughs, much like the performers. Chicago featured Elizabeth Nunnery ‘22 as Velma Kelly, Ashley Hayes ‘19 as Roxie Hart, Helena Lynch ‘20 as Billy Flynn, Katherine Dee ‘22 as Amos Hart, and Keilina Monteiro Do Canto ‘19 as Matron “Mama” Morton, among others.

Over the fall, other students were involved in making the show happen by helping to build props, paint the backdrop, and even work on costumes. The tech crew also worked behind the scenes learning about the lighting and the mics to help ensure that the performances went smoothly.

As the show drew nearer, the girls started practicing in costume, with props, and live musicians. Music was provided by professional musicians and student instrumentalists, Michaela Fitzgerald ‘19 and myself. It was difficult for us to match music to dialogue, knowing music and dialogue cues, and knowing how many times to repeat measures of music. Having live musicians instead of a computer recording also troubled some performers, but, with enough practice, everyone performed well.

The week of the shows is known as tech week. When tech week rolled around, you could feel the excitement in the air. Rehearsals ran from 3 to 7 after school Tuesday and Wednesday. The actresses even came in on Monday to grab some extra rehearsal time. Thursday was busy with Open House taking place at the same time as dress rehearsal. During this time, the cast ran through the show as if they were giving the real performance. This was the first time all of the musicians were playing together, but it was an incredible experience for everyone. It was a time to work out last minute kinks including costumes, mics, and props.

Everyone – from actresses to directors – was challenged during the rehearsals and performances of ‘Chicago’, but at the same time also found so much joy throughout the tireless preparation.
Here’s what a few people involved in the production had to say about their time during these past few months:

“The best part of being in Chicago was being in the family of the cast because everybody is so loving and supportive of each other.” -Helena Lynch ’20 (Billy Flynn)

“The best part about working on Chicago was working with Mrs. Dawson, Clare Kennedy, and Clare Adamczyk. It was nice to see the development of a generation of technicians and directors.” -Ms. Russell (Director)

“The best part was spending time with talented, authentic, kind, genuine, excited, entertaining people who make the show enjoyable and the best version of Chicago that Broadway has ever seen in the history of musical theater.” -Lydia Woodgate ’20 (Liz)

“The best part of working on Chicago was the relationships that came out of it. I have become so much closer with so many people. The NDA thespian troupe is so supportive, and every single time I came off stage, I would be complimented and congratulated. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.” -Katherine Dee ’22 (Amos Hart)

“Chicago was the best musical I was in during my four years at NDA, because of the countless laughs and inside jokes I will forever share with 40 girls I have come to know as my family.” -Joleen Johnston ’19 (Razzle Dazzle Dancer)

“The hardest part was learning how to find a balance between yelling and singing in Cell Block Tango and staying in character while dancing all at the same time. The best part was how close the cast got! I’ve never seen a musical cast get this close and I loved getting to know everyone that was a part of it.” -Catherine Landry ’19 (Annie)

On opening night, all were excited and nervous. The cast arrived at 5 PM and immediately started prepping costumes and makeup. Tables for tickets, concession stand, and the board for notes to the actresses were all set up. By six o’clock musicians began to show up, and the cast were getting their mics prepared. Everyone on the set was simultaneously participating in secret psyche and signing the “thank you” cards for Ms. Russell, Mrs. Dawson, and the Clares. Around 7:00 pm students, parents, and teachers began to fill the auditorium, eager to see the show.While all the girls and directors behind the curtain followed their stage tradition of “circling up.” This is when everyone tried to relax their nerves and wished everyone the best of luck.

From there, the first show commenced. There were minor technical difficulties, but regardless, the students never stopped and their professionalism and enthusiasm didn’t waver. The audience laughed on cue after each punch line and applauded with awe after each musical number. They cheered and gave a standing ovation at the end of each of the three shows, each show becoming better than the one before. Everyone gave it their all to wow the audience… and they did. Following the final Sunday matinee performance, everyone from cast to crew was very emotional. Building up to these emotions before the Sunday show by presenting seniors with their senior gifts. At this point, not many were able to hold back the tears. Before the last show closed out, the seniors thanked all the adults who made the show possible and parents, siblings, and friends gathered with the cast to take photos. This was a show nobody wanted to forget!

Throughout the production members of the cast and crew became closer and closer. Many new friendships formed and many students were reminded of why they love performing so much. Although the cast members were exhausted after two months of rehearsal they were also sad to leave the show and their roles behind on the empty stage.