COOK County came to the Dragonfly Theatre at Writhlington School when Merriman Theatre members put on three electrifying performances of Kander and Ebb’s musical Chicago.
The youth theatre company, celebrating its 21st anniversary, is made up of actors, singers and dancers aged from ten to 18 years old, mostly from the Midsomer Norton and Radstock area.
Set in the Roaring 20s in Chicago, the story starts when Roxie Hart shoots her lover and persuades her loving husband to confess to the crime … until he discovers her deception.
The scene moves to the women’s prison block, controlled by Mamma and filled with murderous women. Roxie soon finds she likes the limelight, and that puts her into competition with Velma Kelly, a popular performer who did to death her sister and their partner.
Mamma invites star lawyer Billy Flynn to take over Roxie’s case, and then its a battle for the headlines.
The show rings lots of 21st century bells with its passion for celebrity, no matter what lies you tell or lives you take.
The Broadway show was as famous for Bob Fosse’s choreography as for the songs, and at Merriman they did them all proud.
The 40-strong cast relished all the shape-making and dance steps required by the jazzy score, and the homicidal stories were danced out as the prisoners gave their accounts.
As with all youth theatre musicals, it was an ensemble piece, and everyone played their part in unfolding the deeply immoral story – played here in the “highschool version” that downplays some of the more risque characterisations.
The cast is led by Izzie Rees as a hard-edged and spirited Roxie Hart, Evie Thomas as the jealous Velma Kelly, Joe Derrick as the flamboyant Billy Flynn and, stealing the show, Ethan Salvidge as the sad Amos Hart, (Mr Cellophane, just seven years after it was invented!)
Photographs by Stewart McPherson.