Chicago — Broadway


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What: Chicago Show
Where:  PLAYING AT
AMBASSADOR THEATRE
How Long:
TIME
2 hrs, 30 min.
(1 Intermission)
BUY TICKETS
FROM
$69.00
Average Weekly Schedule:
MONDAY 8:00PM
TUESDAY 8:00PM
WEDNESDAY DARK
THURSDAY 8:00PM
FRIDAY 8:00PM
SATURDAY 2:30PM 8:00PM
SUNDAY 2:30PM 7:00PM


Chicago is a Broadway musical show set in Prohibition-era Chicago. The music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The Broadway musical show Chicago story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal". The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on, and currently playing at the Ambassador Theater.

The Broadway musical show Chicago is based on a play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune.
Annan, the model for the character of Roxie Hart, was 23 when she was accused of the April 3, 1924, murder of Harry Kalstedt. The Tribune reported that Annan played the foxtrot record "Hula Lou" over and over for two hours before calling her husband to say she killed a man who "tried to make love to her". She was found "not guilty" on May 25, 1924. Velma is based on Gaertner, who was a cabaret singer. The body of Walter Law was discovered slumped over the steering wheel of Gaertner's abandoned car on March 12, 1924. Two police officers testified that they had seen a woman getting into the car and shortly thereafter heard gunshots. A bottle of gin and an automatic pistol were found on the floor of the car. Gaertner was acquitted on June 6, 1924. Lawyers William Scott Stewart and W. W. O'Brien were models for a composite character in Chicago, "Billy Flynn."
Watkins' sensational columns documenting these trials proved so popular that she decided to write a play based on them. The show received both popular and critical acclaim and even made it to Broadway in 1926, running for 172 performances. Cecil B. DeMille produced a silent film version, Chicago (1927), starring former Mack Sennett bathing beauty Phyllis Haver as Roxie Hart. It was later remade as Roxie Hart (1942) starring Ginger Rogers; but, in this version, Roxie was accused of murder without having really committed it.
In the 1960s, Gwen Verdon read the play and asked her husband, Bob Fosse, about the possibility of creating a musical adaptation. Fosse approached playwright Watkins numerous times to buy the rights, but she repeatedly declined. In her later years, Watkins had become a born-again Christian and believed her play glamorized a scandalous way of living. However, upon her death in 1969, her estate sold the rights to producer Richard Fryer, Verdon, and Fosse. John Kander and Fred Ebb began work on the musical score, modeling each number on a traditional vaudeville number or a vaudeville performer. This format made explicit the show's comparison between "justice", "show-business", and contemporary society. Ebb and Fosse penned the book of the musical, and Fosse also directed and choreographed.

The original Broadway musical show Chicago production opened June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances. Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. Chicago's 1996 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on Broadway, not counting the revue Oh! Calcutta!, and is Broadway's sixth longest-running show. As of December 2010, The Broadway musical show Chicago has played for more than 5,800 performances. The musical was produced in London's West End and on several tours and international productions. The Academy Award-winning film version (2002) of the musical was directed by Rob Marshall and starred Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, and Queen Latifah.


The Broadway musical show Chicago Plot synopsis:
Act 1
In the late 1920s in Chicago, Illinois, Velma Kelly is a vaudevillian who murdered both her husband and her sister when she found them in bed together. She welcomes the audience to tonight's show ("All That Jazz"). Meanwhile, we hear of chorus girl Roxie Hart's murder of her lover, nightclub regular Fred Casely.
Roxie convinces her husband Amos that the victim was a burglar, and Amos cheerfully takes the blame. Roxie expresses her appreciation of her husband's thick skull ("Funny Honey"). However, when the police mention the deceased's name Amos belatedly puts two and two together. The truth comes out, and Roxie is arrested. She is sent to the women's block in Cook County Jail, inhabited by Velma and other murderesses ("Cell Block Tango"). The block is presided over by the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton, whose system of mutual aid ("When You're Good to Mama") perfectly suits her clientèle. She has helped Velma become the media's top murder-of-the-week and is acting as a booking agent for Velma's big return to vaudeville.
Velma is not happy to see Roxie, who is stealing not only her limelight but also her lawyer, Billy Flynn. Roxie tries to convince Amos to pay for Billy Flynn to be her lawyer ("A Tap Dance"). Eagerly awaited by his all-girl clientèle, Billy sings his anthem, complete with a chorus of fan dancers to prove his assertion that "All I Care About is Love". Billy takes Roxie's case and re-arranges her story for consumption by sympathetic tabloid columnist Mary Sunshine, who always tries to find "A Little Bit of Good" in everyone. Roxie's press conference turns into a ventriloquist act with Billy dictating a new version of the truth ("We Both Reached for the Gun") while Roxie mouths the words. Roxie becomes the new toast of Chicago as Velma's fame is left in the dust. Velma tries to talk Roxie into recreating the sister act ("I Can't Do It Alone"), but Roxie turns her down, only to find her own headlines replaced by the latest sordid crime of passion. Separately, Roxie and Velma realize there's no one they can count on but themselves ("My Own Best Friend"), and the ever-resourceful Roxie decides that being pregnant in prison would put her back on the front page.
Act 2
Velma again welcomes the audience with the line "Hello, Suckers," another reference to Texas Guinan, who commonly greeted her patrons with the same phrase. She informs the audience of Roxie's continual run of luck ("I Know a Girl") despite Roxie's obvious falsehoods ("Me and My Baby"). A little shy on the arithmetic, Amos proudly claims paternity, and still nobody notices him ("Mr. Cellophane"). Velma tries to show Billy all the tricks she's got planned for her trial ("When Velma Takes The Stand"). With her ego growing, Roxie has a heated argument with Billy, and fires him. She is brought back down to earth when she learns that a fellow inmate has been executed. The trial date arrives, and Billy calms her, telling her if she makes a show of it, she'll be fine ("Razzle Dazzle"), but when he passes all Velma's ideas on to Roxie, down to the rhinestone shoe buckles, Mama and Velma lament the demise of "Class". As promised, Billy gets Roxie her acquittal but, just as the verdict is given, some even more sensational crime pulls the pack of press bloodhounds away, and Roxie's fleeting celebrity life is over. Billy leaves, done with the case. Amos stays with her, glad for his wife, but she then confesses that there isn't really a baby, making Amos finally leave her. Left in the dust, Roxie pulls herself up and extols the joys of life "Nowadays". She teams up with Velma in a new act, in which they dance and perform the "Hot Honey Rag" until they are joined by the entire company for the grand "Finale".

Chicago — Broadway Musical numbers
Act 1
"All That Jazz" - Velma and Company
"Funny Honey" - Roxie Hart
"Cell Block Tango" - Velma and the Girls
"When You're Good to Mama" - Matron Morton
"A Tap Dance" - Roxie, Amos Hart and Boys
"All I Care About" - Billy and Girls
"A Little Bit of Good" - Mary Sunshine
"We Both Reached for the Gun" - Billy, Roxie, Mary and Reporters
"Roxie" - Roxie and Boys
"I Can't Do It Alone" - Velma
"Chicago After Midnight" - Orchestra
"My Own Best Friend" - Roxie and Velma
Act 2
"I Know a Girl"- Velma
"Me and My Baby" - Company
"Mr. Cellophane" - Amos
"The Poker Match" - Orchestra
"When Velma Takes the Stand" - Velma and Boys
"Razzle Dazzle" - Billy and Company
"Class" - Velma and Matron
"Nowadays" - Velma and Roxie
"Hot Honey Rag" - Velma and Roxie
"Finale" - C

The Broadway musical show Chicago, 1996 Broadway revival
City Center Encores! series presented Chicago in May 1996. The series had been previously used exclusively to bring attention to older, more obscure musicals that might have otherwise have been forgotten. The production was directed by Walter Bobbie with choreography "in the style of Bob Fosse" by Ann Reinking, who also starred as Roxie Hart. Also in the show was Bebe Neuwirth as Velma Kelly, Joel Grey as Amos Hart and James Naughton as Billy Flynn. Performers were holding scripts and the choreography was sometimes unpolished. The show was well-received, with Howard Kissel, reviewing for the New York Daily News writing that "This 'Chicago' impressed me far more than the original.". Ben Brantley, in his review for The New York Times, wrote " 'Make love to the audience' was another Fosse dictum. That's exactly what Ms. Reinking and her ensemble do. 'Chicago' can still seem glibly cynical and artificially cold, especially in its weaker second act. But these performers know just how to take off the chill." By May 10, 1996, there was talk of a Broadway production: "Down the block, there is a move afoot to move the Encores production of "Chicago" to Broadway. Rocco Landesman said that he and Fran and Barry Weissler wanted to bring the production to the Martin Beck Theater this summer."
Barry and Fran Weissler brought the concert version of Chicago, now titled Chicago: The Musical, directly to Broadway, where it opened on November 14, 1996, with a new script by David Thompson. The show set a record for recovering its initial costs faster than any other musical in history. This is likely due to the stripped down nature of the show: the set is nothing more than a giant bandstand, and the costumes are minimalist and black.
Unlike its predecessor Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville, Chicago: The The Broadway musical show Chicago was met with praise from audiences and critics alike. Society had changed in light of events such as the O. J. Simpson murder case, and audiences were more receptive to the criminal-as-celebrity theme of the show.
Chicago: The Musical won six Tony Awards, more than any other revival in Broadway history until being beat out by South Pacific which won seven, winning for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Bebe Neuwirth, Best Leading Actor in a Musical for James Naughton, Best Lighting Design of a Musical for Ken Billington, Best Director of a Musical for Walter Bobbie and Best Choreography for Ann Reinking. While still married to Verdon, Fosse also romanced Reinking, who eventually took over the role of Roxie when Verdon left the show. Reinking reprised this role in the 1996 revival, when she was 46.
Chicago: The Musical has run for over 5,400 performances as of January 10, 2010 and holds the record for longest-running musical revival on Broadway, second only to the nude revue "Oh! Calcutta." Chicago is currently the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever. During its run, the show has played in three Broadway theatres - the Richard Rodgers Theatre (the same theatre where the original 1975 production played, at the time called the 46th Street Theatre), the Shubert Theatre and the Ambassador Theatre. The Grammy Award winning cast recording of the revival was released on January 28, 1997. The show currently features Tom Hewitt (Billy Flynn), Robert Creighton (Amos), LaVon Fisher-Wilson (Matron "Mama" Morton), Charlotte d'Amboise (Roxy), and Leigh Zimmerman (Velma).

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