Review: All That Jazz—Upper School Performs Chicago

Carly Winant May 25, 2012 2

The “Marionette” scene. Photographer: Daniel In

Murder, manipulation, and hurtful lies. Everything an Archer girl holds near and dear to her heart, right? In March, the Upper School put on a thrilling production of the prohibition-era musical, “Chicago.”

One thing about this show that made it a unique theater experience was the pre-show. While walking into the Blackbox to take a seat, the audience was greeted by the entire ensemble scattered around the theater. Some were even offering audience members drinks (non-alcoholic ones of course). Not a single actor broke character for a second. Each girl was fully committed to the person they were playing.

The set was made to look like a 1920’s speakeasy. Rather than using simple backgrounds with monochromatic costumes like the current Broadway revival of “Chicago,” Archer designers chose colorful and fun costumes, not to mention a beautifully constructed set. The word “Chicago” was even written in huge lights on the center stage wall.

The show stayed true to the original songs and did not cut anything out, which was appreciated by theater fans such as myself. Some numbers even cleverly began with the charismatic Master of Ceremonies, played by Lizzy Tartikoff ‘12, introducing the numbers.

SHOW STOPPER: Aby Josephson ’13 awed the audience with her amazing triple-threat performance.
Photographer: Daniel In

Leading Ladies Aby Josephson ‘13 as Velma Kelly and Ellie Beckman ‘12 as Roxie Hart gave show-stopping performances. Both had some great laugh-out-loud comedy moments, and they blew away audience members with their powerful singing voices.

The two had great chemistry as friends and partners in crime; Josephson commented, “We put a lot of heart and soul into the whole process and that’s what I think made it so wonderful–we worked so hard and I think it paid off.”

When asked how her overall experience working on “Chicago” was, Beckman said, “I could not have asked for a better senior show to be in, and to do it with all of my friends with whom I’ve been doing plays and musicals for most of my time at Archer was just the cherry on top.”

Other actors that gave memorable performances were Samantha Rosenwald ‘12 as the sly Billy Flynn, Grace Fetterman ‘12 as shy Amos Hart, and Sarah Eshaghian ‘12 as the hilarious Matron Mama Morton. Each one of them definitely put their best foot forward and made the audience smile whenever they were onstage.

Personally, one of my favorite numbers was “The Cell Block Tango.” It managed to be fun, entertaining, and slightly frightening as the audience heard the stories of how various female criminals killed their husbands. Cell Block Tango girls Laina Chin ‘12, Kathleen Kelso ‘14, Carolyn Zaccaro ‘14, Cece McLennan ‘15, and Alexandria Choe ‘13 gave dramatic and solid performances.

The ensemble members consisted of Nastaya Popov ‘13, Catherine Bergin ‘13, Mica Burton ‘12, Cora Cull ‘12, Benina Stern ‘12, Sophia Pendleton ‘12, Elizabeth O’Donnell ‘12, Olivia Bagg ‘15, and Chace Beech ‘12. Each contributed to the show’s brilliance. All were strong dancers and had beautiful, harmonic voices.

A LOTTA HART: Ellie Beckman ’12 gives it everything she’s got for her farewell performance at Archer. Photographer: Daniel In

The choreography was dynamic and thoroughly entertaining. But by the looks of it, it was anything but easy. Josephson explained how she and Beckman would spend “a lot of time after-school, during frees, even during winter break, practicing [their] dances non-stop.”

Reed Farley, choreographer, did an excellent job of creating complex dance pieces that were flawlessly performed by the entire cast.


Director Tracy Poverstein and Assistant Director Emma Pauly ‘12 exceeded all expectations. This was one of the liveliest and most beautifully paced productions  Archer has ever done. They made our small stage feel like Carnage Hall with their seamless handling of each scene.

This top-notch, professional production was truly a pleasure to watch. If you didn’t get the chance to see the show, boy did you miss out on something special. Who cares if it’s a few months late? If you’re in the hallways and you see someone from the cast or crew, take a second and congratulate them on their hard work.


  1. Rhonda Leshman November 25, 2012 at 1:42 AM -

    Unbelievable show, fantastic talent, so entertaining! Archer performing arts does it again, congratulations. Thanks for the great review Carly.

  2. Mrs. Todd November 27, 2012 at 5:59 PM -

    Such a great show! Looking forward to hearing what’s coming up this spring!