All that jazz: Parksville high school students gear up for ‘Chicago: High School Edition’

Ballenas Secondary performers stage slightly toned-down version of popular show

Rehearsals for Chicago: High School Edition are in full swing at the Ballenas Secondary Whalebone Theatre.

Director Doug Campbell moves around the theatre as the students rehearse, watching the stage from several different angles.

“Yeah you guys, that looks awesome. Way to go!” says Campbell, as the students finish up a rousing version of popular tune All That Jazz.

More than 30 students in Grades 8 to 12 have been getting together twice weekly since September to rehearse for the show, which opens Feb. 19.

READ MORE: They’re off to see the wizard at Parksville school

“I’m really excited for an audience to see this. We’ve spent a lot of money on costumes as you can see, and a ton of time choreographing these dances so they look authentic to the time period, to the Bob Fosse interpretation of the show,” said Campbell. “I’m really excited for people to see this real-deal ‘Chicago’ going on here.”

Ballenas is putting on the high school edition of Chicago, which means that the more risque parts have been edited out to be more tasteful for the younger audience.

However, Campbell cautions that the end result probably still warrants a PG-13 rating. The play is, after all, about female vaudeville performers who commit murder.

Campbell says that rehearsals have been going very well so far.

He’s proud of the students and looking forward to audiences seeing them in action.

READ MORE: Working with intuition and a critical eye: Parksville painter’s work on display

“The dedication these kids has been incredible. I really haven’t had to challenge them or push them much, they’ve done it themselves, which is pretty awesome,” said Campbell.

“It’s been fun to teach the kids the language, all the vocabulary from that time period, what kind of music jazz was. They’ve really responded to it. They’re liking it.”

Lead character Roxy Hart is played by Allison Poole, who was Dorothy in last year’s production of Wizard of Oz.

“If you know her voice, it’s fantastic,” said Campbell.

He’s also excited for the theatrical debut of George Perkins.

“I think he’s really going to blow people away,” said Campbell.

There’s a surprise in store for audiences as to who’s been cast as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

The show opens on Wednesday, Feb. 19 and runs the 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28.

Tickets are $10 at the door, or can be purchased online at All showtimes start at 7 p.m. sharp.

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