Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Oakland Catholic take audience to ‘Chicago’ in musical
Nicole Joyce has always admired the work ethic of the students at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, and their ability to embrace the challenge that might come with whatever musical the school is performing.
This time around, Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic actors and actresses will perform the high school edition of “Chicago” April 11-13. The musical features complex characters and some difficult dancing, but Joyce, the co-director and choreographer, says the students have nailed the large undertaking.
“We thought that with the current group of students that we have, this was a good play to showcase all their talents,” Joyce says. “We always every year have a really amazing ensemble that can sing and dance and act, and each year they really push themselves, especially with the dancing because not a lot of the student have dancing experience, they have singing and acting experience.”
“Chicago,”a musical based on a 1926 play written by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins on criminals she’d written about, follows two rival vaudevillian murderers, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who are both locked up in jail.
The two fight for the spotlight and a return to show business and celebrity. Annie Mihm will play Roxie, while Jane Fusco will play Velma. While Roxie and Velma’s characters duel, others are introduced, like Billy Flynn, a high-profile lawyer, and Amos Hart, Roxie’s husband. Max Martier will portray Amos, while Steele Mercer takes on Billy. Joyce says that some of the cast members says their character was their dream role. As a whole, Joyce lauds the cast for investing in their characters.
“We always will go out and do some research and research the characters. So they’ll go out and research, which really shows that they are professionals,” Joyce says. “They come back and they bring their take to what the character is, and we’ll provide some direction to them to make it even better.”
Beyond the complexities of the characters, Joyce says a particular challenge of the play is the dancing, a jazz dance style named after Bob Fosse, the choreographer of the original production of “Chicago.”
“That Fosse style is more mature than a traditional show. And it’s kind of an awkward style as well for people that aren’t familiar,” Joyce says. “And to really achieve that and achieve that authentically, it’s a really big success.”
Despite the difficulty of learning the choreography, and the play as a whole, Joyce says the cast rose to the challenge, which is par for the course for these students.
“The responsibility, the maturity and being self-disciplined, it’s something they just have,” Joyce says. “We would not be able to pull off a show like this if they didn’t have those attributes.”