Masque ‘Razzle Dazzles’ with Chicago


Maria Chaer '20, Staff Writer

The excitement and energy is thick in the air as I entered Central Catholic Saturday evening. Having been in Masque shows before, I know from personal experience that the Saturday spring shows are always the most exciting- and the most bittersweet. I walked through the hallway leading to the theater entrance and smiled at the glossy photos of the cast and crew on the glass cases lining the walls. As I entered the theater, the black looming set and the orchestra tuning their instruments immediately set the mood and added to the excitement.

When people first learned that Central and Oakland were performing Chicago (high school edition), an enthralling and mature musical based on the crimes and trials of Vaudevillians Roxie Hart (Annie Mihm ‘20) and Velma Kelly (Jane Fusco ‘20), many feared that this musical about murder and adultery might be too scandalous for a high school to perform. However, having been in the show, I soon learned that the musical under the direction of Nicole Joyce and Nina Mascio was tasteful and exceptionally well done.

As the lights flickered and the show was about to begin, I sat in my seat, not expecting to be surprised since I had learned some of the dances and witnessed the performances. On the contrary, like every Masque performance, the cast and crew of Chicago outdid themselves and dazzled me beyond expectation.

Chills ran through my body as the Narrator (Darnell Bouie) kick-started the show. As the pit launched into the fun and jazzy melody of the 1920’s, the stage transformed into a circus-like frenzy of lights and impossible feats of dancing. Dancers dove into splits across the stage, others held legs high above their heads. And then suddenly, the show started with the show stopping opening number of “All that Jazz.” Fusco’s rich voice and the ensemble’s precise and complicated dancing formally invited me into the world of Chicago. Impressively, the students at Oakland and Central Catholic in the opening number not only learned Broadway original choreography, but were well-versed in the complicated dance style of Bob Fosse.

As the show continued, Roxie Hart entered with a literal bang with the murder that lands her in jail. You can’t help but love Hart thanks to Mihm’s sweet, yet humorous rendition of “Funny Honey.”

Chicago itself was a perfect show for Masque considering the amount of extremely talented females in the cast. The rendition of Cell Block Tango with the featured six Merry Murderesses of Cook County Jail, (in order: Hall ‘19, Philips ‘20, Mercurio ‘20, Helms ‘21, Fusco ‘20, Saitta ‘19) was not only powerful, but a true showcase of all the talent contained in Masque’s small cast, especially when the entire female ensemble appeared on stage. However, it would be a crime to forget the talented boys who also participate in Masque, especially the two supporting leads Billy Flynn (Steele Mercer) and Amos Hart (Max Martier).

Mercer’s character, a money-loving lawyer, brings humor to the show when he ironically sings “All I Care About Is Love.” On the contrary Martier’s sweet, earnest, and lovable character evokes a special type of compassion and love for invisible Amos. His heart wrenching ballad (“Mr. Cellophane”) earned a standing ovation from the crowd, and I couldn’t help but feel pride considering this is Martier’s first role.

The ensemble throughout the whole show were both extremely lively and incredibly talented, which was apparent in the many group numbers such as, “They Both Reached for the Gun,” and “Me and My Baby.” The small, yet mighty male ensemble especially proved their worth and skill in “Roxie,” when they lifted Mihm up into the air with an incredible feat of strength.

Up until act two, I strongly believed that the cast had done a phenomenal job and could not possibly surprise me further. Yet, during “Razzle Dazzle,” at the moment when the glitter sparkled down from the fly thanks to the hidden, yet equally as important crew, the cast completely stole my heart.

The crew’s hard work throughout the whole show was apparent through their flawless execution behind the wings and the building of their impressive set. The light crew especially, with their stylistic choices of color, only added to the magic of Chicago. Under the supervision of Maura Doyle, these students from Central and Oakland have built sets in the past that seem incredibly complicated for someone who is still in high school. Their dedication to ensuring that each and every performance runs smoothly is rightfully recognized.   

Chicago was an incredible performance, and the Masque students of Central and Oakland were extremely mature and professional. All I can say is this: I cannot wait to see how the talent in Masque continues to flourish in the shows to come. Congratulations to the cast and crew of Masque!