Did you get to watch Eagle Rock Stage’s newest production, Chicago? If you did, you’ll know it was glamorous, suspenseful, striking, and all that jazz. Having three performances total, one could argue that this has been one of their best productions yet!
Stress was high for members of Eagle Rock Stage during the weeks preceding their show and with reason. During tech and dress week, the priorities were nailing the choreography, remembering lines, and staying in sync. After all, the passing of each rehearsal put them one day closer to their show! One could imagine it was a challenge transitioning from Shakespeare with their production of A Midsummer Nightmare to the early 20th century’s flash and flare. Without a doubt, every member of the cast and crew was perfectly capable of pulling this off.
It was definitely a privilege to observe Ms. Kissam’s leadership during tech and dress rehearsals. Whenever she found an adjustment necessary, she patiently worked with cast members to perfect choreography or lines. That same leadership was shown by stage manager/director Jasper Mann. Working closely with the crew, he made sure that lighting and music coincided with the acting that was taking place while also helping cast members make any necessary adjustments. Truly, it was wonderful to see Eagle Rock Stage working tirelessly to produce their best production for us.
Having gone to many rehearsals prior to opening night, it was truly great to see everything come together. Any adjustments that were made during rehearsals were implemented, creating an effortlessly perfect performance. The set was stunning, featuring jail cells and letters with lights spelling out “Chicago.” Transitions were smooth, and the audience was loving every minute of it.
Frankly, the vocals were chilling. Leads Ivy Klein, as Velma Kelly, and Violet Blue Borsay, as Roxie Hart were absolutely fantastic. Hitting every high note and making every step, they made the audience erupt. That night, a fan favorite was Arlon Baluyot’s performance of “Mister Cellophane” as Amos Hart: A song about feeling invisible, the audience definitely made him feel seen. They were clapping along to the beat and “aww” -ing at his lines, a truly heart-warming moment.
At the end, their performance motivated many audience members (including myself) to give them a standing ovation. Truly, they deserved it. After the show, My arms were sore from clapping! A breathtaking way to begin their brief run of Chicago.
Emotions ran high as the Eagle Rock Stage Team performed their final showing of Chicago on Saturday evening, and the show did not disappoint. The hard work, dedication, and love for their roles shined through all throughout the show, but especially in the performance of “Cell Block Tango” starring Pop (Lily Goldsmith), Six (Nadezhda Brennan), Squish (Claire Young), Uh Uh (Anabella Caudillo), Cicero (Ivy Klein), & Lipschitz (Isabella Ibarra). Stunning vocals, clean choreography, and passionate acting came together in this number as they precisely and elegantly conveyed the stories of their respective murderess. Overall, it was a brilliant stand-out showcase of exactly what theater company intends to produce.
Every member of the Eagle Rock Stage team poured their all into this final night for arguably their best show yet, but for some older members of the company, this night was about more than a culmination of the hard work and talent of just the last semester. For the Eagle Scream’s own Shepherd Lee Williams this night showcased years and years of hard work and love for theater at this high school that as a senior, he would now be saying goodbye to. “I’ve been in denial about the fact that this is my last show. I’ve been doing this for a long time, half a decade and I don’t know what I’m going to do without it,” Shep says. After all this time being on stage, “box time” as he calls it, was simultaneously his favorite and least favorite part of the production. It finally allowed him to see one of his shows from the audience’s point of view and seeing his cast members, but especially his close friends, perform brought a tear to his eye, but more importantly reminded him that he was leaving this company in good hands. “Thank you to everyone there Sophia, Dao, Arlon, Claire, Lily, Isabella, Eleanor my theater mother, Ms. Kissam who has been such a huge figure in my life, thank you to all these people for making theater just the best, and thank you to crew, everybody worked so hard.” Now for Shep, it's off to Northwestern for Journalism, but he’d like to leave Eagle Rock Stage with these words of his: “I’m a free man. God Save Illinois. My exit music please.”
But Shep wasn’t the only one, for so many other members, this night was their final production with our theater company here at ERHS, and the emotion this invoked clearly made its way to the audience’s hearts. But regardless of status or role in Chicago every member of the team that brought this show to our auditorium went above and beyond and produced a performance that was exemplary in every way.
Now, it's safe to say that anyone who didn’t see Chicago definitely missed out, but don’t worry: they’ll be back to working hard to grace our theater with another exceptional performance as soon as school starts up again. Chicago was made special by the hours spent and commitment poured into it by the cast members on and off stage and talent like this will continue here in Eagle Rock for years to come and be spread by our graduating seniors as they soar someplace else.