‘Chicago’ Looks Towards the Justice System

This summer the Duluth Playhouse Teen Intensive will be performing Chicago and William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in repertory style from August 11th to the 21st. This week we’ll be sharing the concept for this summer’s musical, Chicago.

This production of Chicago takes the traditional setting of the jazzy 20s, and gives it a modern twist. Guns have been stripped from the show, and though the black Fosse tights remain, they’re complimented with orange jumpsuits. This is being done to take light of current events in our nation, and to focus more on our criminal justice system. By stripping away the sexualization of these characters, the aim is to see them as real people, facing real problems as they deal with the criminal justice system and living in a state penitentiary.

Belva Gaertner on the left and Buelah Annan on the right, the real life women who inspired Velma and Roxie.

Belva Gaertner on the left and Buelah Annan on the right, the real life women who inspired Velma and Roxie.

The inspiration for this concept is the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. This dramatic comedy takes place in a woman’s federal prison. It focuses on how the women are treated behind bars, and how they found their way behind bars in the first place. Orange is the New Black shows that everything is not always black and white with the criminal justice system. That’s what the Duluth Playhouse Teen Intensive’s production of Chicago aims to do as well. The people in charge sometimes bend the rules; some people get lighter sentences or go free because of their race, gender, wealth, attractiveness, or another of a variety of factors; and sometimes the guilty go free while the innocent get convicted. To capture this, students have been doing research on criminal justice as they also rehearse for their show, and the Honorable Judge Jill Eichenwald of the 6th Judicial District was brought in to talk to the young performers about her experiences as a judge and a public defender.

To help audience members get a better understanding of the criminal justice system in our own state, and the country as a whole, before they come to see the show, we have a research paper on Minnesota’s criminal justice system, written by one of our students for his senior capstone project.

To read “A Look at the Criminal Justice System of Minnesota,” written by Jacob Polinsky, click here.

Jill Eichenwald speaks at the St. Louis County Courthouse. Eichenwald was sworn as the 6th Judicial District’s newest judge. The Duluth native and longtime public defender will replace John DeSanto, who retired in September. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Jill Eichenwald speaks at the St. Louis County Courthouse. Eichenwald was sworn as the 6th Judicial District’s newest judge. The Duluth native and longtime public defender will replace John DeSanto, who retired in September. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

GET TICKETS!

What: Chicago and Twelfth Night
When: August 11-21, 2016
Time: Thursday-Saturday @ 7pm, Sunday @ 2pm
Tickets: Adults – $17, Youth/Students – $14
Purchase: Online (click Chicago or Twelfth Night) or call 218.733.7555

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One thought on “‘Chicago’ Looks Towards the Justice System

  1. Pingback: The Beatles and The Bard collide in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ | The Duluth Playhouse Official Blog

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