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Murder — and all that jazz

Tantasqua stages 'Chicago'

The Merry Murderesses sing “The Cell Block Tango (He Had if Coming)” as they dance behind bars in the Tantasqua performance of “Chicago” last weekend. See additional photos in tomorrow's edition. Shawn Kelley. (click for larger version)
November 22, 2010
STURBRIDGE — The jury finds the defendant not guilty of murder — as usual — but with harmony.

Not guilty was the popular verdict in prohibition-era Chicago area courtrooms, when highly publicized murder cases were considered to be a form of entertainment. This atmosphere of corruption and collusion in the judicial system was captured in the 1926 Maurine Watkins play "Chicago," which has since become one of the most successful and recognizable productions in theaters around the world.

Last weekend, the Tantasqua Regional High School Fine Arts Department impressed audiences with their rendition of the musical play, delivering four performances in less than two days inside the high school auditorium.

"We have been in rehearsal for the last three months and are proud of our students," said Producer and Musical Director Christine Costello, who also serves as the Director of Fine Arts for the Tantasqua Regional School District.

The play starred senior Joseph Conceison as Billy Flynn, an accomplished defense attorney who would take any case if the price was right. Seniors Taylor Roy and Brege Von Bleicken played the two main female parts, murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, while Senior Abbie Gregory played prison matron Mamma Morton, who was neck deep in political scheming and bribery as well. Overall, the cast consisted of 32 students who were assisted by an orchestra of 11 students and music teachers.

"This show is not the student version like so many shows are today," Costello said. "It is the actual Broadway version with some cleaning up of language and content to make it high school friendly."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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