‘Chicago: Teen Edition’ dazzles in final performance

Park theater overcomes week of persistent sickness


Abby Keller

The last number of Park’s fall musical Chicago ends with jazz hands in rehearsal Nov 10. The cast overcame illness and created a magical finale to their run.

Sarah Peterson and Taylor Voigt

During the production of “Chicago: Teen Edition,” Park theater faced many challenges while approaching flu season. There were changes the cast and crew had to make on short notice, but they were able to finish strong on closing night Nov. 20.

Artistic Director Jodi Schifsky said that sickness leading up to shows can be frustrating and challenging to everyone involved.

“It definitely holds us back when we’re missing a lot of people. Luckily, we had really strong understudies who went on at times in rehearsal or even in performances, and did a great job performing those roles too,” Schifsky said. “When we move the understudy into one role, everybody else has to fill in various other positions. It’s always tough when you don’t have (the show) in full force.”

Junior Coco Gruen, who starred as “Velma Kelly,” said that she faced sickness throughout the final week of production.

“I was sick all week,” Gruen said. “Today’s actually the only day that I feel good. I’ve been performing sick the entire time.”

Schifsky said the audience had a big impact on how the cast performed.

“The energy from the cast and the audience was so invigorating,” Schifsky said. “The cast really fed off of that, and it was one of the most energetic and confident performances we’ve had to date.”

Gruen said that the cast also gained more spirit as the shows progressed.

“I’m much more confident,” Gruen said. “I don’t get nervous before I go on stage anymore because I just know what I’m doing.”

Sophomore Isaiah Brown, who starred as “Amos Hart,” said he enjoyed the bond formed with the cast and crew throughout the fall. 

“I was proud of the vibes today,” Brown said. “It was very homey backstage and everyone was giggling and dancing around. I like that family-type feeling that is built over time.”

Schifsky said that the final performance brought many mixed emotions to the cast and crew.

“It’s very emotionally charged because it’s bittersweet,” Schifsky said. “You’ve done all this work and it’s finally paying off, but now we’re going to take a few pictures and tear everything apart. All this work over two months is now reduced to the final moment of that show.”

Gruen said closing night is emotional for the cast as it’s their last opportunity to perform that show together.

“You’ll never get this experience again,” Gruen said. “You’ll never be in high school doing this production, this role, this way, ever again, and I think that’s special.”