On Stage

Chicago

All that jazz

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It’s not often that a show at the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth comes with a warning for parental guidance, but it’s also not every day that the longtime arts education hub produces a play with murder on its mind.

It’s also important to note that when Chicago: High School Edition debuts at BAAY Fri., Aug. 31, Teri Grimes will be in charge of directing the tale of two performers, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who—after being convicted of horrific crimes—vie for the spotlight, headlines and acquittal.

Before retiring in 2014, the celebrated director spent more than 30 years teaching drama at both Bellingham and Sehome high schools, and has since been invited to share her talents at Lynden’s Claire vg Thomas Theatre and the Bellingham Theatre Guild. She knows what she’s doing, and, more importantly, the results she’s produced from young actors—including those who were cast in last year’s run of The Drowsy Chaperone at BAAY—are legendary.

“Teri brings decades of experience directing theater to her instruction of the Chicago cast,” BAAY marketing director Juliette Machado says. “She is a force to be reckoned with in rehearsal and she holds high expectations for these students in their engagement with the material and in their commitment to the process.”

Since the goal of “BAAY Pro”  is to provide opportunities for senior students ages 14-17 to experience what the artistic landscape might look like after high school, choosing Chicago is a no-brainer. Although the musical has been modified—specifically concerning some of the racier content, language, costuming and choreography from the original—it still contains much of the magic that made it the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.

“The Broadway revival won six Tony Awards, and the quality of characterization, choreography and music in the show is undeniable,” Machado says. “Many of our students have expressed interest in learning this work, and when the rights to the high school edition became available for purchase, BAAY jumped at the chance to give students the opportunity.”

Singing and dancing to iconic hits such as “All that Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle” will be part of the allure, as will the fact that the performances will act as swan songs for many BAAY students, who will soon age out of the programs.

In addition to supporting the talented teens by filling the seats during the two weekends of shows, a special dinner theatre performance with a “Roaring 20s” theme on Sat., Sept. 8 will raise funds to further BAAY’s mission of enriching the lives of children through the exploration of the arts.

While some parents may decide against bringing their younger kids along to Chicago, others may see it as an opportunity to show up-and-coming performers what’s possible with hard work, a trusted director and a stellar storyline. Either way, it’s a guaranteed good time.

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