‘Chicago: Teen Edition’ opening night success

First show energizes audience

Ena Mekic

The production of “Chicago: Teen Edition” has been in the works for almost three months. After many stage rehearsals and vocal practices, the first show was performed Nov. 11. Theater director Jodi Schifsky said she is proud of how far the show has come, and is pleased with how opening night went.

“We had a phenomenal audience. You could sense the opening night energy and we really have taken the show up over the course of this week, and it paid off tonight,” Schifsky said. 

Set in the 1920s, “Chicago” follows the story of Velma (Coeleen Gruen) and Roxie (Gwen Rockler-Gladen) as they are being accused of murder and sent to prison. Gruen said she enjoys playing her character and likes the dark yet comedic feel of the musical.

“Velma is a scary character, she’s a terrible person who’s very dishonest. Every time I’m on stage, I try to seduce the audience just a little bit to be in the spirit of the character,” Gruen said.

Additionally, Gruen said she loves the excitement of opening night because of the energy the cast and crew bring. 

“Opening nights always have this nervous energy that just transcends into really energetic performances, which is a very nice feeling,” Gruen said. 

Senior Charlie Kroells, co-head of costumes for the show, said creating the outfits was an intricate yet thrilling process. 

“We researched the vaudeville aspects of the show, as well as the streetwear and prison wear that they would have worn during that time,” Kroells said. “I really enjoy the process of working with the actors and getting to know their feedback on the costumes, and getting to bring their characters to life through the clothing.” 

Since the pandemic, this is the first performance where the entire cast is not required to wear face masks. Schifky said it’s been a long journey to get to this point. 

“We realized in the past few years when their faces were covered, we lost so much of their facial expression,” Schifsky said. “And that’s a lot of the storytelling, so it’s great that now we are able to see every movement, and let them use every part of their bodies.”

Although the show went well for Gruen and Kroells, Schifsky admits there were some challenges. However, she said they proved to be beneficial in the end.

“We were having some technical glitches with the microphones and we were missing a cast member so we had to cover for that. There are a couple of things that we just had to come together as a team and take care of,” Schifsky said. “But it actually helped tighten the unity of the show. We’re finally getting the pace where we need to be.”

Schifsky anticipates that the upcoming shows will add even more nuance to the performances.

“Once we get on our feet we can get comfortable enough to amp it up, because each actor can bring something new every night,” Schifsky said. “And I hope they continue to do that for the next five shows.”

“Chicago: Teen Edition” plays at 7 p.m. Nov. 12, 18, 19, along with 2 p.m. matinees on Nov. 13 and 20 in the auditorium.