“Chicago: High School Edition” Takes Simon Theatre Stage

Stony Batter Players, Mercersburg’s student theatre company, gave three performances of Chicago: High School Edition February 8–10 in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre. Director of Theatre Laurie Mufson directed the show.
Chicago: High School Edition is an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical (the longest-running American musical in Broadway history) by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse. The show follows Roxie Hart (played by Grace Bennett ’19), a wannabe vaudevillian star who murders her lover and is arrested. While incarcerated, Hart meets her hero, famed double-murderess and nightclub performer Velma Kelly (Ella Jane Reinhard ’19).

When both acquire the same lawyer (the greedy and lustful superstar Billy Flynn, played by Casey Nguyen ’19), tensions come to a head as they vie for the spotlight—though instead of onstage, they’re mugging for the flashbulbs of the newspaper reporters.

According to Mufson, the number of students who auditioned was the largest in recent years. A total of 43 students auditioned for the show, and 27 students were cast in the ensemble. A crew of 13 students worked backstage to support the show, led by Maddie Kennedy ’19 (stage manager) and H.P. Nguyen ’19 and Shoki Nemoto ’21 (assistant stage managers).

“We are all having so much fun working on this show; the kids are engaged and working so hard,” Mufson says. “Getting to work with the different choreographers has been eye-opening for them to see different styles. From a director’s perspective, watching them build something has been a great process.”

Mufson adds that the students in the cast are getting a lot of experience working with a number of professionals—who are being brought to campus to enhance the students’ on-stage experience.

Chicago features choreography by Anne Reeder Bertram ’00 (“All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “I Can’t Do It Alone,” and “When Velma Takes the Stand”); Mary Robare (“We Both Reached For the Gun,” “”Roxie,” “Me and My Baby,” “Hot Honey”); Denise Bennett (“All I Care About is Love” and “Nowadays”) and Mufson (“Funny Honey,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” “My Own Best Friend,” “Mr. Cellophane”). “Razzle Dazzle” was co-choreographed by Bennett, Robare, and Mufson.

Students also worked with Certified Alexander Technique instructor Kathryn Armour, a Broadway vocal coach, who visited Mercersburg to rehearse with the cast of a Stony Batter musical for the sixth time. Students have also worked with guest performers from the cast of Traces in the Wind, who hosted a workshop following their performance at the school meeting on January 25.
Lindsay Owen and Richard Rotz are the show’s musical directors; James Brinson is the vocal music director; Kelly Dowling is the resident set and costume designer; Walt Dowling is the lighting designer; Pat McDaniel is the sound engineer and Owen also serves as the show’s vocal coach.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236