West Point High School brought glamour, scandal to life with 'Chicago: High School Edition'


Glamour, scandal and crime came to life at West Point High School last week with the performance of the musical “Chicago: High School Edition.”

West Point High School drama and music students depicted the 1920s with main characters Roxie Hart, played by Ava Atkinson, and Velma Kelly, played by senior Janiece Deveaux, are dubbed “celebrity criminals,” along with the six other women in Cook County Jail in Chicago.

“Chicago” is a musical based on the the book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.

The musical featuring 1920s fashion explores the feud between cellmates Hart and Kelly, who are both accused of murder. They turn into media celebrities while awaiting trail, according to the official Chicago Broadway musical website.

The students sang and danced with passion at their final dress rehearsal March 13, gearing up for opening night on March 14 and performances during the next two days.

Backstage, female student actors applied showgirl make up, had their hair worked into 1920s wavy buns and wore heavily adorned flapper-style dresses.

Beverly Hammond, the school’s drama teacher and director, said after the show closed that all of the performances went well and were full of fun musical numbers.

Hammond said she had always loved “Chicago,” and knew she wanted to bring it to West Point when the more appropriate high school version of the play became available.

“We have done so many musicals of different varieties, but I especially like those that take us to another time, another place and time,” Hammond said. “Many people may not know that this musical is also based on true crimes, criminals and trials that happened in Chicago in the 1920s. The show actually pokes fun at the ‘romanticism’ and the making of ‘celebrity criminals’ that still goes on in today’s world.”

Hammond said seeing the students bond between grade levels and get excited for performances is some of her favorite parts of each production.

The musical featured West Point High School graduating seniors Emani Braxton as matron ‘Mama’, Joshua Ware as Amos Hart, Kaie Robins as the sound and lights booth leader and Jackson Sturtz as the spotlight operator.

The show was dedicated to Pamela Steele, a CTE teacher at the high school who will retire at the end of this year after 28 years teaching.

The show had musical direction from Melody Raef, orchestra from Justin Camacho, art from Sue Kurfees and choreography from Mary Dice, Madison Raef and Janiece Deveaux.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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