Chicago is coming to Cohoes.
Cohoes High School was recently announced as one of ten schools across the country to win a royalty-free license to perform Chicago: High School Edition.
Created in celebration of Chicago composer John Kander’s 90th birthday, the Samuel French “Razzle Dazzle Competition” asked how students “razzle dazzle” their school community by demonstrating how musical theater impacts their lives, inside and outside of school.
Christian Gunn, director of the drama program, said he submitted an application at the beginning of the school year and had mostly forgotten about it, until he received the congratulatory email.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Gunn said. “I thought ‘this is not possible.’ It’s crazy.”
The performance rights, orchestrated music and scripts will be provided free of charge. Those elements typically cost up to $4,000. Gunn said this will allow the club to steer funds toward some much-needed infrastructure updates, and more elaborate sets and costumes.
District leaders noted a resurgence in the drama program.
“It’s inspirational to see how far they’ve come in such a short period of time,” said District Superintendent Jennifer Spring. “Christian is the catalyst of the program and he’s really taken it to new heights.”
The Drama Club is currently preparing to perform Shrek April 12-14, then students will set their sights on performing Chicago in the spring of next year.
“We’ll jump into some of the racier elements of theater. It’s a real life musical with real life problems,” Gunn said.
According to Gunn, the subject matter of Chicago won’t be the only thing that challenges the club’s rising stars. It’s also a more dance-heavy production than they’re used to.
“I always try to set the bar unrealistically high so they’ll push themselves and go as high as they can,” he said. “This can really take them to the next level.”