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A note from the director
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery, - all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”
So begins the musical CHICAGO – and creators John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse never back off from that bold and sinister promise. A promise they fulfill with wit, danger, dazzle, style, and a great deal of humor. The prickly delight of CHICAGO is that the musical is both showbiz savvy and thematically rich, so that while it sets toes tapping, it also entertains the mind.
But first, the story: Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who dreams of headlining in vaudeville, kill her lover, then convinces her husband to come up with $5,000 to hire CHICAGO’s shrewdest lawyer, who ultimately turns her crime into celebrity headlines and gets his client acquitted. By telling its tale in the sexy jazzy of modern vaudeville, the kills(and there are five more of them)set out to seduce the audience as well as the jury.
This 1975 musical based on the 1926 play by Maurine Dallas Watkins now looks like it was ripped from today’s headlines. In recent years, America has experienced a new wave of celebrity trials. The abuses, manipulation of and by the press, and the complexity of our judicial system can make the search for truth and justice seem like different goals. CHICAGO’s plot was shocking in 1926, cynical and satirical in 1975, and today feels like a documentary.
The motor of any musical is its score, and Kander and Ebb have written a “hummer.”Each song, enhanced by Ralph Burns’ brassy jazz band orchestrations, evokes the 1920’s, reveals character, makes us laugh, drives the story, and simultaneously sustains an insistent beat, an edge which (like its characters) is as desperate to entertain as it is entertaining. A score of show-stop-pers.
Our production had its beginnings at City Center’s “Encores!Great American Musicals in Concert.” It was conceived as an homage to Bob Fosse, one of the great theatrical minds of any generation. Rather than reproduce his 1975 Broadway production, we choose to reawaken its themes by honoring Fosse’s choreographic style, and filling his production with stylistic images that spanned his brilliant career, from DAMN YANKEES through SWEET CHARITY, PIPPIN, CABARET, and ALL THET JAZZ.
OUR minimalist set and lighting reflect CHICAGO’s themes of entrapment. Less site-specific,the production moves fluidly not from place to place, but from one emotional context to the next. The characters in CHICAGO are trapped – either in prison and in the legal system, or trapped by their own fame, lust, greed, ambition. Likewise, our cast is trapped on stage, the orchestra confined in an exaggerated jury box, and our lighting shadows these images with prison bars and the glamorized solitude of the spotlight. Black became the color – black, and of course, skin. And though this production enjoys a conceptual departure form the 1975 Broadway original, stripping CHICAGO bare has revealed a piece of writing sturdier, richer, funnier and certainly more relevant than ever. I’ve always loved this show – you be the judge.
Enjoy…and all that jazz!
“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all thosethings we hold near and dear to our hearts”…so begins the international award winning musical, CHICAGO starring GARY WILMOT as Billy Flynn.
Based on real life events back in the roaring 1920s, nightclub singer RoxieHart shoots her lover and along with Cell Block rival, double-murderessVelma Kelly, they fight to keep from death row with the help of smoothtalking lawyer, Billy Flynn.
Created by the musical theatre talents of John Kander, Fred Ebb andlegendary choreographer Bob Fosse, CHICAGO’s sexy, sassy score includes“All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle”. With 6 Tony, 2 Olivier, 1 Grammy, 2Bafta and 6 Academy Awards, CHICAGO truly is “The sharpest, slickest showon the block” The Times.
A nightclub singer, a double-murderess, a smooth-talking lawyer and a cellblock of sin: it would be a crime to miss it.
The legendary director and choreographer Bob Fosse had the vision forCHICAGO in 1975 when he obtained the rights from the original book writerMaurine Watkins. He joined forces with the musical team of John Kanderand Fred Ebb who had previously written Cabaret, to create the firstversion of the musical CHICAGO. This starred Gwen Verdon, Chita Riveraand Jerry Orbach and ran for two years. Cut to 1995 when director Walter Bobbie, who was artistic director of NewYork’s City Center Encores! series, decided to revisit the work, payinghomage to the late Bob Fosse in partnership with choreographer andlongtime Fosse protege Ann Reinking. With four Tony Awards to its credit,the show moved from the City Center stage to the Broadway stage where itopened on 14 November 1996 and became the most talked about show ofthe decade. In the subsequent years this show about notoriety and celebrity hasconsistently attracted some of the most glamorous and talented performersaround: including Ute Lemper, Ruthie Henshall, Denise Van Outen, SachaDistel, Claire Sweeney, Alison Moyet, Marti Pellow, George Hamilton, JimmyOsmond, Gary Wilmot, Melanie Griffith, Les Dennis, Gregory Harrison,Michael Greco, Gaby Roslin, Kevin Richardson, Billy Zane, David Hasselhoff,Jennifer Ellison, Patrick Swayze, Jill Halfpenny, Lynda Carter, AshleeSimpson and Brooke Shields.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAID
1997:“THIS GREAT PRODUCTION OF A MAGNIFICENT SHOW BRINGS THE OLD RAZZLE-DAZZLEBACK TO THE WEST END WITH A VENGEANCE, SHEER THEATRICAL BLISSSunday Times
1998:“STILL THE HOTTEST SHOW IN TOWN, BUT IT JUST GOT BETTER” Independent
1999:“Chicago is as hard and shiny as lacquered nails” What’s On 2000:“CHICAGO REMAINS A PHENOMENON” Sunday Express
2001:“THE SHOW REMAINS AS TAUT AND SEXY AS THE SASSY ENSEMBLE'S G-STRINGS” Evening Standard
2002:“THE CAST IS PROBABLY THE BEST IN THE SHOW’S WEST END HISTORY” Sunday Express
2003:“...LOOSE-LIMBED, FINGER-CLICKING SLINKINESS – IT REMAINSDYNAMIC ENTERTAINMENT"The Times
2004:“THE SHARPEST, SLICKEST SHOW ON THE BLOCK” The Times
2005:“A SLEEK PACKAGE OF SEX, MURDER, GREAT SONGS AND ARCH WIT” Evening Standard
2006:“RACY, DARK AND BRUTALLY FUNNY” Sunday Times
2007:“STILL THE SEXIEST, MOST SENSATIONAL MUSICAL” Sunday Express
2008:“AFTER 10 YEARS AND 23 ROXIES,CHICAGO IS STILL A FRESH AND TERRIFIC SHOW”Daily Mail
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