Hawk Theatre Company to perform “Chicago”


Photo by Sarosh Ismail

Senior Shae Duggan learns the choreography to the “Cell Block Tango” during theater practice Nov. 17. Senior Page Hall was given the role as lead choreographer for the performance of “Chicago”.

Hawk Theatre Company has begun rehearsing for this year’s musical, “Chicago,” to be completed by the end of January. Due to its mature themes, the company will be performing a version prepared for high school. 

Because of its popularity, the original creators of the musical cut select songs and the profanity to make the production suitable for high school performances. Despite these alterations, the production was chosen by directors because of its ability to comply with virus protocols.

“It really is a great show, and like most theater departments, we have a lot of girls and we wanted a chance to feature them,” head director Ramina Mirmortazavir said. “In terms of pandemic protocols,[“Chicago”] had a lot of scenes with less people in it, so we don’t have to have a whole, big cast [on stage] at one time. We can have two people or four people and really spread them out and think about our safety protocols. So it was the perfect show.” 

The production is a musical based on historical events about two Vaudeville performers who killed their significant others. Instead of villainizing them, the media took great interest in the women due to their charm and beauty. 

“The idea behind it is the glamorization of people who should not be glamorized,” Mirmortzavi said. “These are not people who should be celebrities in our culture, and yet here they are getting all these newspaper stories written about them. We are not doing this play because we want you to be like these characters, we are doing this because we wanted to explore something more challenging.” 

For the past two years, the theater company has focused on Disney productions for musical seasons. Previously they have performed “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.” Mirmortazavir, as well as many of the actors, are excited to perform something on the edgier side. 

I am happy to be finishing my senior year with ‘Chicago,’” senior Megan Majors said. “It’s exciting to do a musical that’s not Disney or for kids in my opinion. Although the high school version of ‘Chicago’ holds back, it still tells an intriguing story. All of us are playing baddies on stage, which really goes with my own personal transformation through quarantine that a lot of us can relate on. It’s nice to have a female-prominent show, as there are not a lot of shows that are.”

On top of performing more challenging subject matters, the actors will learn their choreography from fellow actor, senior Paige Hall. This will be her second musical as head of choreography. Hall hopes to pursue dance in college. 

“The original Broadway choreographer is (Bob) Fosse and he is a huge icon in the dance and theater world, so to dance his style is an honor,” Hall said. “Being the choreographer, I have complete control of what I want to do, whether that be to stick to the original choreography or add in my own flair. I would say my absolute favorite thing about choreographing is getting to see the cast bring to life a thought that was once in my head and hearing their feedback and seeing how much fun they have.”  

Since the company will be using the edited version of “Chicago,” many of the mature scenes will not be performed.COVID-19 procedures will also prevent prolonged  close contact between actors. 

“For me, I’m comfortable in my setting and have never been uncomfortable performing [mature scenes],” Majors said. “Sometimes as a performer you throw yourself into the role and hope for the best, even if you feel funny. Though, high school is a lot different. We haven’t gotten to the super adult scenes in our process yet.” 

Due to her hectic schedule, Hall has had to make time in order to teach every dance in the musical. Along with applying for college and senior coursework, she also teaches at two different dance studios. 

“[Fosse’s] work in “Chicago” is so well known that it would almost be a crime to not put in certain moves,” Hall said. “But not everyone can do all these moves, so I have to think about the people I am working with and what looks best for them. Also, when I hear the songs I just close my eyes and let the music move me, and from there if I like what I’m coming up with, then I’m gonna roll with it. At the end of the day, all I want to do is create a fun-loving environment that the student can look forward to. If the students are having fun performing the dances, then I know I have successfully done my job.”