GOOD MORNING BROADWAY FANS! We are just 4 days away from The 72nd Annual Tony Awards. We have more performances coming your way on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At # 4 on our countdown, things are about to get hot. This unique show tells a story about MUDER, GREED, CORRUPTION, VIOLENT, EXPLOTIATION, ADULTERY, & TREACHERY?. ALL THE THINGS WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS.. That of course is the opening line from our selection of the day?. The RAZZLE DAZZLE hit Chicago The Musical. Based on Maurine Dallas Watkins? 1926 play of the same name, the musical features a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb along with a book by Kander and Bob Fosse.
From the 1997 telecast. Tony winners Bebe Neuwirth as ?Velma Kelly?, Ann Reinking as ?Roxie Hart?, and members of the original cast of the current long revival perform a medley of the show?s opening number ALL THAT JAZZ and the HOT HONEY RAG.
CHICAGO was first conceived as a musical in the 1960?s. Acclaimed performer Gwen Verdon asked her then husband director and choreographer Bob Fosse to read Maurine Dallas Watkins? 1926 Celebrity Crime themed play of the same name. He was inspired and asked Watkins several times to get permission in adapting the story into a musical. She flatly refused. Later on, Watkin realized (as a born-again Christian) believe her play glamorized a scandalous way of living. Following her death, Fosse and Verdon finally got the go-ahead and received the rights from Watkins? estate as well as to producer Richard Fryer.
CHICAGO first premiered on Broadway in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) running for 936 performances. The reviews were mixed and audiences were uncomfortble with several moments of the show with the actors breaking the fourth wall in several numbers (including THE CELL BLOCK TANGO). The original cast starred?.
Gwen Verdon as ?Roxie Hart?,
Tony winner Chita Rivera as ?Velma Kelly?,
The late Jerry Orbach as ?Billy Flynn?,
Barney Martin as ?Amos Hart?,
and Mary McCarthy as ?Matron Mama Morton.
During the original run, tragedy struck with the show on the verge of the closing. Gwen Verdon apparently had to have have surgery on nodes in her throat after inhaling a feather during the show’s finale (THIS DID HAPPEN). With the show also on the verge of closing, Fosse and the creative team tried to find a great name to fill in the role of ?Roxie Hart?. At the time, Liza Minnelli (who at the time just finished shooting the film version of Cabaret the Musical which she won the Oscar for) offered and stepped into the role for several weeks. She had to learn the role very fast and no one in the audience knew what was going on till the announced was made?. ?Ladies and Gentlemen, Due to the indisposition of Gwen Verdon, the role of ?Roxie Hart? will be played by Liza Minnelli?. The audience went bananas with excitement (especially seeing the beloved daughter of Judy Garland take center stage). .
The original production of CHICAGO was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 1975 including Best Musical but lost all of it’s categories.
The show was performed in several regional theaters but it really got more attention when it returned to New York City in the 90?s.
The first and current revival of CHICAGO originally started out as a concert production for the New York City Center ENCORES series in 1996 under the direction of Walter Bobbie and choreography (honoring Bob Fosse?s work) by Ann Reinking. Due to the critical success of the Encores engagement, producers Barry Weissler and Fran Weissler transferred the production to Broadway a few months later. It first started out at the Shubert Theatre till 2003 before transferring it to it’s “still up & running” current home at the Ambassador Theatre. In 2014, it surpassed the original production of Cats the Musical (which played 7,485 performance) and currently holds the distinction as the 2nd Longest Running Show in Broadway History and the first Longest Running American Musical in Broadway History.
The revival is well known for having a huge lineup of celebrities having their attempts on doing Broadway and Musical Theatre. It continues to play to packed houses (On Broadway, on Tour across America, London’s West End, and Around The World) every night. So far on Broadway, it has played over 10,000 performances. The original cast of this revival consisted of?
Ann Reinking as ?Roxie Hart?,
Bebe Neuwirth as ?Velma Kelly?,
Tony winner James Naughton as ?Billy Flynn?,
Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey as ?Amos Hart?,
and Marcia Lewis as ?Matron Mama Morton?.
The revival was nominated for 8 Tony Awards in 1997 winning 6 including Best Revival Of A Musical.
In addition to its success on the stage, CHICAGO was a big hit on the big screen. In 2002, Miramax pictures released the legendary film version that brought the Movie Musicals back on the map. Under the direction and choreography by Rob Marshall. The film featured an all star cast consisting of?
Renee Zellweger as ?Roxie Hart?,
Catherine Zeta-Jones as ?Velma Kelly?,
Richard Gere as ?Billy Flynn?,
John C. Riley as ?Amos Hart?,
and Queen Latifah as ?Matron Mama Morton?.
The film went on to receive numerous Awards including BOTH the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Picture in 2003.
Isn’t this show such a RAZZLE DAZZLE smash?!
from the Tony Awards
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