NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The strains of "All That Jazz" filled the air Wednesday evening, marking the beginning scene of the first official dress rehearsal of "Chicago, High School Edition," at the high school.
The high school edition of the musical is a cleaned up version of "Chicago," the longest running show on Broadway, but the music, sets and characters are familiar to anyone who has seen the show -- on Broadway, on tour, in London or on the screen.
Playing Billy Flynn, the lawyer who never loses a case and only represents women, is Jack Nissen. Trent Zane tackles the role of Amos Hart, a simple man who almost takes the rap for a murder committed by his wife, Roxie Hart, played by Jade Navarro. Roxie ends up in jail where she meets the famous vaudevillian Velma Kelly, played by Samantha Kelleher, who killed her husband and sister.
The action takes place in the cell block and the court room as the two women work all the angles to beat their murder raps and compete with each other for the attention of their lawyer -- Billy -- and the public.
Nissen, a Junior at New Providence High School, said he has been involved in theatrical productions since the age of nine. He said he finds the role of Billy "challenging. I haven't really played a suave character before." He has no plans to make a career in theater, instead he said wants to be a studio musician.
Zane, a senior, said this is his second high school production, and he finds Amos to be "very relatable. I can just be honest with it. It's not difficult to play him." Zane, who has also been seen in shows with the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, says he has no plans for a career in the theater.
Kelleher, a senior, said she has been in three shows at the high school and has done a lot of outside theater in New Jersey. She said, "Velma is a very difficult role for me -- she's very out there and confident. She loves to be the center of attention, but that's not me." Her plan is to major in theater in college.
This is Navarro's fourth appearance in a high school show, and she has performed in other venues. She said, "The most interesting part of playing Roxie is she's a psychopath. She's moody, and has her ups and downs. It's cool testing out her flirtatious behavior." Navarro, a senior, said her goal is to have a career as a vocal performer.
The players are backed up by strong supporting players and a fine chorus of men and women who sing, dance and help bring the story to life.
The students all had the same message, "Come to the show."
Tickets are available at SeatYourself.biz/NPHS for performances on Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
For more about the New Providence School District music and performing arts programs, please visit http://www.npsd.k12.nj.us//Domain/15.