Darien High School’s spring production of ‘Chicago’ continues this weekend

The cast of Darien High School’s Chicago at last weekend’s performances. Nina Nelson photo

This year’s Darien High School Theatre 308 spring musical production is Chicago, the longest running American musical in Broadway history.

DHS musical theater director, Tim Sorensen, who took home best director honors at The Stephen Sondheim Awards back in June for last year’s 308 production of Footloose, emphasized “Putting on a show like Chicago is a dream! It will challenge students in a way that no other musical can. The dancing alone is very demanding. But if there is one thing our students can handle it is a challenge. I’m excited for the community to see what they are truly capable of doing.”

Jackson Wood, Theatre 308’s secretary of external communication, wrote in their press release, “This is the first time high schools have been allowed to produce Chicago in over five years. The show was taken off the market for several years while a new high school version was produced. While some dialogue and musical numbers were tweaked, classics like ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Cell Block Tango’ and ‘Mr. Cellophane’ remain to wow audiences.”

Sorensen explained another first for this year’s production, “Broadway productions have multiple performers ready to play multiple parts on any given night. And we have so many talented actors, singers, and dancers, that we put together a swing cast.” The primary role of this year’s swing cast is to operate as understudies in case one of the principle actors cannot perform. “However, to ask a high school student to learn a significant part and not get a chance to perform it is a big request,” Sorensen added. “Therefore, we will hold our first ever ‘Swing Night’, where our swings will get their chance to show off their talents in a more significant role.”

Chicago was written by Bob Fosse, who also choreographed the original production in 1975. His dance techniques are being mirrored by Emily Frangipane for this production while incorporating new sequences that set the Theatre 308 production apart from the Broadway version. To help get into the roaring twenties spirit, Darien resident Amy Raskopf has worked with student designers to develop looks that aren’t just for the risqué Broadway state but for the high school stage as well.

The players — Nina Nelson photo

Darien High School’s tech ed department Chair Rich Reynolds spoke about a couple new things they’re trying out this year, “We added two weekends, which is something we’ve never done before, most schools do though. But we just thought it would be such a shame to put all this work and energy for one weekend, so this way we allow more people to see it.” He then spoke about the set, saying, “We put the pit on stage. We built a giant structure on the stage so the front is now open. We will be making that new space a VIP ticket section.”

Listed below is more information about this year’s production. Note that all performances will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for adults. To reserve seats, go to seatyourself.biz/theatre308. Tickets will also be available at the door. Performance dates are Thursday, March 28, Friday, March 29 (*Swing performance), Saturday, March 30. For more information follow @theatre308 on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or check out our website: theatre308.org .