Broadway performer returns to HPHS to train student actors
A Highland Park alumna with experience performing in the Broadway revival of Chicago returned to the Park Cities to prepare students for their recent run of Chicago: Teen Edition.
Christine Cornish, a 2009 Highland Park graduate who plays Hunyak in the Broadway production, worked with students at her alma mater during rehearsals.
She made her Broadway debut in the original revival cast of Cats as Bombalurina and was part of the original casts of My Fair Lady and Kiss Me, Kate!, among others.
Cornish said HPHS choir director Natalie Walker, who taught her when she was in concert women while she was in high school, told her about the student production.
“She had mentioned that the school was doing Chicago, so I was able to book a very quick trip, … visit my family, and work with the students for a night! It was a pleasure, and I’m so glad they had me,” Cornish said. “I hope they learned that each and every student involved with the show is an integral part of the larger production.”
Highland Park High School’s showing of Chicago: Teen Edition was directed by Brittany Murphy, with senior McKinley Meece starring as Velma Kelly, senior Kate Denton as Roxie Hart, junior Morgan Martinez as Billy Flynn, senior Jessica Wu as Matron “Mama” Morton, and senior Laci Rosen as Hunyak.
Meece previously performed in HPHS productions of Lord of the Flies, Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blonde, and Shrek: The Musical.
“Playing Velma Kelly in Chicago has definitely been the most intense role all-around compared to other roles I have performed,” she said. “Overall, I love everything about being Velma because she has so many fun opportunities during the show, and there’s such a wide range of emotions/moods that her track portrays.”
Denton previously performed inThe Little Mermaid Jr. and Beauty and the Beast.
“I think it’s so cool to have played many different roles in different styles of shows through HP and be able to get lots of experience,” she said. “The most fun part about playing Roxie is that she is a character. She always has a ton of energy, and I love being able to incorporate so much personality into her.”
“Working with Christine was the most incredible and surreal experience. I was definitely a bit nervous to perform for her, but she was so kind and so genuinely excited to talk to me and to teach me more about how to accurately characterize Hunyak,” Rosen added. “The most challenging part of playing Hunyak has definitely been the fact that she is Hungarian, and the vast majority of her lines are in Hungarian, not English. Fortunately, I happened to know someone who is Hungarian, so she was instrumental in helping me learn the pronunciation and inflections of the Hungarian lines. I also watched a lot of videos of people speaking Hungarian in order to learn the accent.”