Two Sides of the Same Musical

A look into a male lead, female lead, and stage manager thoughts and feelings about Chicago, the upcoming musical produced By Grayslake Central.



The Chicago the Musical infographic

Cayla Pierce, Staff Reporter

“Pop, six, squish!” Chicago the musical is coming to Grayslake Central theater on Nov. 18, 2022.  Chicago is a traditionally risqué musical set during the ‘roaring 20s’, with protagonists Velma and Roxie, in Cook County Jail as they try to cheat their way out of prison.  Ava Bruce, who plays Velma, Justin Spoor, who plays Amos, and Linnea Strack are busy preparing for their Chicago roles.

Linnea is a senior who has participated in theater since she was five doing acting or tech work. She said she has stuck with it for so long because “It’s my passion, and I think my life would be boring without it.” Linnea went on to say that theater has been a major part of her life, and now that she’s done it for so long, she can’t imagine life without it. During middle school, she began doing tech during school and acting over summer. Then when entering high school, her upperclassmen friends pushed her into doing Encore, Central’s theater program. Linnea gives credit to Mr. Evans, the technical director, for encouraging her to take on the role of stage manager. With his support, she became set on being a stage manager going into her junior year. Linnea described stage management as a “bridge between technical and acting parts of theater.” Stage managers take “walking notes”, which consists of tracking down where members go. They are also responsible for rehearsal report notes for details of each scene. When asked what skills she’d learned, Linnea said teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and learning to be prideful in her work. When asked about her favorite thing about Chicago she said that “she really loves how the actors are portraying the characters, they’re doing an amazing job, and that she loves watching everything come together.” Finally, when asked about theater overall, she says the people are the best part. Linnea called the experience a “bright and fun community.”  Despite all the good, Linnea stated that becoming overwhelmed with the work is the biggest challenge to the production… Being in a position of responsibility with so much relying on her has been an adjustment but she’s learned and continues to learn how to handle the stress.

Next; Ava is also a senior who has participated in theater since she was six or seven. She said she’s done theater for so long because she looks forward to seeing her friends and a different form of expression in a unique art form. “It’s healing for a person,” she stated, “you can put your emotions from your life into your character and be able to portray that.” Ava plays Velma, a role she was quite excited about. Ava said when she was a sophomore, she and her mother watched Chicago and her mother mentioned “wouldn’t be great if you did the show”. Then she told Ava she’d be good as Velma, so it became something Ava really wanted to do, saying,  “She(Velma) has been a desired role for a really long time.” When talking about her experiences in theater, she said they were positive being in a leadership role, and as Ava said, “as a leader, you help to bring the cast together.” She said she’s been learning how to be more comfortable with singing, especially being in a lead role. Another thing she said she’d learned is to not worry about how she’s being perceived, be it herself or her singing/acting choices. When asked about her favorite thing about Chicago, she said how risqué it was. “The dance numbers because they’re more fun and spicier than we’ve done in other musicals.” For theater in general, she said the people were her favorite part. As per everything, there’s bad with the good and Ava said taking a step out of her comfort zone with her singing has been the biggest challenge she has faced, “Velma doesn’t have insecurities.” She said learning to let go of that worry has been hard, but she is making progress. 

Finally; Justin is a junior who has done theater since second grade. He said his reason for doing theater for so long has been that it plays into acting. He considers acting as a natural mechanism for day-to-day life. He also said acting also gives people a way to “show people truths about themself”. Then his final reason was the entertainment aspect. He said, “It’s interesting. It helps me understand people better and puts smiles on people’s faces.” Justin plays Amos, a character he described as very vague, saying “there are certain aspects that you don’t know how the character acts.” And to him, that’s been the biggest challenge and where he has learned the most. It’s been hard for him to work with the vagueness to produce a character that fits with the traits that Amos already has. The skills Justin has picked up are from imitations of others who behave like Justin’s vision of Amos to form the perfect character. His favorite thing about Chicago is that it contains many themes. Specifically; nostalgia. The 1920s were a time of parties and jazz but were still horrible. He said this show shows “how nostalgia twists our perception of things.” Then, for his favorite part of theater: the people. That the people who participated in theater were curious and he enjoys that about his fellow cast members. 

While only three of the many people who are either in cast or crew were interviewed, it shows a lot of what goes into theater. Whether that be the joys of being amongst friends or learning new skills, Chicago will be an amazing musical put on by fantastic people.