Chicago: The Inside Scoop


Photo Courtesy of Jen Reid

Warren Hills Drama Club rehearses numbers such as “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle” for its spring musical, Chicago, during a full dress rehearsal in anticipation of the show that was performed April 29 to May 1. Over the three performances more than 400 people attended.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the Drama Club found a way to perform an outside production of Chicago. The show ran from April 29 to  May 1, and it took almost five months of work. 

Putting on a production of any show is tricky, but COVID restrictions managed to make Chicago even more difficult. This did not stop the Drama Club from putting on an amazing performance.

Since there were still restrictions on the number of people in one area, the club decided to perform the show outside on the side of the building by the greenhouse.

“In total we sold 436 tickets,” said Theatre Arts Director Nicole Labrit-Petrewski. “Although some of them had to be refunded, this was still a decent amount considering the circumstances, and all of the shows had nicely sized audiences.”

Ticket sales were only online so that the club could keep a head count of how many people were going to be there. 

The Thursday night performance ended up being cancelled due to a rainstorm. As if that wasn’t chaotic enough, the Friday night performance was changed last minute to an indoor performance because of a high wind advisory. 

“We knew we had to stay on our toes because of the possibility of things changing in a split second,” said cast member Wesley Reyes, a junior. “It was a hectic transition bringing the show indoors as we did not practice inside, but in the end, we pulled it off.”

The weather was not the only thing that they had to worry about. COVID was always on the back of their minds. Thankfully they never had to quarantine as a group and only had one COVID scare. 

The club had to be extremely flexible with the rehearsal schedule because at any moment the school could have been closed. The one week Warren Hills did have to shut down because of an outbreak, the club adjusted quickly and switched to online rehearsals. Luckily, they already knew how to do that from the virtual fall play. 

Of course, anything that is done during a pandemic comes with its fair share of struggles, and the spring show was no exception.

“It’s definitely been a new challenge but I really feel that we’ve worked hard and accomplished a lot despite everything,” said cast member Simone North, a sophomore.

One additional challenge was wearing masks while singing and dancing. The club did find a way so people could still see their facial expressions by getting masks that had clear plastic in front. The leads were allowed to pull down their masks during solos, so they didn’t have to worry about that either.

“Wearing masks has definitely presented difficulties with singing and acting and most of the time it’s hard to hear people or read their emotions on stage,” said cast member Gretchen Albrecht. “Despite that everyone has made changes in the way they perform, and the show has grown as a whole because of that.”

For the cast members the special masks were a blessing and a curse because you could see their mouths, until the masks fogged up. 

“The clear bit in the masks fogged due to us breathing into it and one trick I came up with was rubbing hand soap into the mask to de-fog it,” said cast member  Emily Gilligan. 

Another issue was that there was no funding, as they did not make any profits from last year since the show was cancelled.

“For this play I planned to keep it simple,  just because we had to be flexible about everything,” said Labrit-Petrewski.   “If we needed to move the location or the dates I needed to be able to do that without any issues so this year we did the costuming and set ourselves so we were able to be flexible.  We focused on funding the sound so that we could hear everyone clearly outside.”

Despite this hiccup, they found their ways around it and did the best that they could on virtually no budget, considering the lost profit from last year’s cancelled show. The club enlisted members of the community and school to help build sets and borrowed from others in order to put on the production.

“The show  was amazing! Especially under the circumstances, it was so good,”said audience member and alumni Alex Lino. “I could tell from watching that everyone  was just having a good time on stage which made the show feel more genuine than anything.”

Chicago was a show that Warren Hills Drama Club will never forget, considering all of the trying conditions which they would not have to face in a normal year. For both cast and audience members a live show was just what everyone needed after a year full of challenges. 

“It was so refreshing to see a live performance on an actual stage ,” Lino said “For the first time in what felt like