Murder And All That Jazz: The Amazing Cast And Crew Behind Chicago


Samantha Li, Staff Writer

Set in Jazz Age Chicago with satirical themes and intricate plots, Chicago is one of the most popular classic American productions and the second longest-running Broadway musical.                                      

Chicago was originally based on the 1924 murder trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, covered by Maurine Watkins. Watkins wrote about her experiences from those trials, which then became a written comedy. Most of the events on stage in this musical take inspiration from those real life events. Later in 1975, the story was published as a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. 

Minnetonka’s November production of Chicago left audiences astonished during its opening night premiere thanks to the dedication of the 250 cast and crew members. Minnetonka’s Chicago musical takes a lot of work and effort. Every student is vital to bringing the musical together. 

“It takes a lot of time and dedication to be a member of the Theater department, and as someone who came into the experience later than many other students, I can say that the competition is very rigorous,” said Liam Quinn, ‘22. 

Another member of the cast, Claire Oh, ‘23, said, “Chicago’s a very difficult musical to pull off because there’s so much dancing, singing and acting in it.” 

Bringing the musical to life is by no means an easy task. Trent Boyum, the head of theater programming and Arts Center Artistic Director, and his crew first held open auditions for students at Minnetonka and then callbacks to finalize casting. 

“As the director, choosing student actors to play certain roles is always hard. I agonize over every casting choice. I am so glad to have a team of assistant coaches who help me make those difficult decisions,” Boyum said. 

There were at least 70 people participating in Chicago as actors, costume crew members and fly crew members. Fly crew members actively change the lights throughout the show. Olivia Kronzer, Genevieve Esh, Spencer Ammon and Savannah Lowry-Luther, all ‘22, were in charge of keeping things running smoothly during rehearsals and performances. 

Cast and crew work tirelessly for three months in preparation for opening night. Lead roles rehearse nearly every day after school, with at least fifteen hours per week outside of school on rehearsals. On average, students usually spend five to ten hours per week preparing for opening night. During tech week, every single member of the cast, crew and tech team will spend four hours after school on full performance rehearsals. In particular, tech crew members are actively changing lights and sets behind the scenes every step of the way. 

“Our tech crews create the backstage magic, and they are some of the best in the state. The sound, lighting, sets, props, special effects, costumes, hair and make-up all come together to bring the show to life. Truly magical,” said Boyum. 

Some of the special features that made the musical better, according to Oh, who played Mona Lipschitz, were the jail bars coming down during “Cell Block Tango” and a large red screen that came down while Velma Kelly (Marin Busselberg, ‘22) and Roxie Hart (Lillian Hochman, ‘25) were dancing. 

COVID-19 safety was paramount during their preparation. All members wore masks throughout rehearsals until Tech Week, and vaccinations were strongly recommended. During the premieres of the performances, the actors took off their masks before going on stage and immediately put them back on after exiting. However, there were multiple times people had to miss rehearsals and even performances due to COVID-19 exposure. 

In the end, with the effort and talent that students put into Chicago both onstage and backstage, the cast and crew did their absolute best to provide the audiences with a spectacular performance that the audience could be thrilled by.