The razzle dazzle of musical Chicago

By | July 17, 2012

Chicago musical cast on stage photoThe Olympic Games are on their way and the city of London will be gripped by this illustrious global event. As with anything in life though, not everyone will be satisfied with its taste, but the joy of London is that there is always something to please every desire. If the Games are not what you’re looking for, then there is a wealth of theatre just waiting to be consumed instead; our site aims to please, so there is always a range of special ticket offers available to help the theatre-goer fulfil their craving. There’s a show to fit every liking, and one which has given theatre-goers an abundance of entertainment over the years is Chicago.

The current West End production of Chicago has been running in the West End for fifteen years, having resided at the Adelphi Theatre and the Cambridge Theatre, before transferring to its present home at the Garrick Theatre last November. Having originated on Broadway in 1975, it made its first London appearance back in 1979.

Chicago is based on the Maurine Dallas Watkins play of the same name. Reporter Watkins covered the 1924 trial of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertnerm, whom she derived inspiration from to write the play. A collaboration between John Kander, Fred Ebb (music/lyrics/book) and Bob Fosse (co-author/original director), the vaudeville musical centres on chorus girl Roxie Hart who is tried for the murder of her lover. A playful satire on the judicial system and the culture of the ‘celebrity criminal’ the story of Hart’s bid for freedom and fame though her notoriety is augmented by the addition of those such as fellow inmate and vaudeville star Velma Kelly, sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn, hapless husband Amos Hart and prison matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

The musical has won many theatrical accolades over the years, earning numerous Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and two Olivier Awards for the 1997 West End revival, including one for ‘Outstanding Musical Production’. It has also given the world some classic musical numbers, such as ‘The Cell Block Tango’, ‘Mr Cellophane’ and, of course, ‘All That Jazz’. It has spawned countless international productions and was also adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 2002 starring Renee Zellwegger, Catherine Zeta Jones and Richard Gere.

A variety of well-known names have played roles in the London production, including the likes of Marti Pellow, Brooke Shields, Ashlee Simpson, David Hasselhoff, Christie Brinkley, Michelle Williams and Jerry Springer, among countless others. After its move to the Garrick Theatre, Chicago  re-opened with Ugly Betty star America Ferrera as Roxie Hart. The current cast features Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart), Rachel McDowell (Velma Kelly), Raza Jaffrey (Billy Flynn), Tony Timberlake (Amos Hart), Jasna Ivir (Matron ‘Mama’ Morton) and R. Whitehead (Mary Sunshine), although Olympic medal-winning skater Robin Cousins joins the Chicago company for his first performance as Billy Flynn tonight.

Chicago is a fun, sexy, entertaining show with rousing songs and sizzling dance numbers that are exploding with ‘razzle dazzle’. It has become somewhat of a staple of the West End, but unfortunately, those cell doors are locking on the popular musical as it was recently announced that the London production of Chicago will close for good on 1st September 2012. Speaking about the decision, composer John Kander said: “The fact that the London audience has embraced our show for 15 years fills me with gratitude and pride.”

All shows have a shelf-life, and sadly Chicago seems to have reached it. I do believe that it will be a sore loss for the West End, but audiences still have just over six weeks left to go and see it while they can, so why not take advantage of our special offers to grab yourself a ticket and let Chicago ‘razzle dazzle’ you for one last time?

By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)

Content updated 1st May 2014

Author: missjulie

Julie is a theatre enthusiast, and is particularly keen on new writing. She writes articles each week for our website including a popular weekly ‘In Profile’ which features actors and actresses that are not in lead roles and are often in the Ensemble.

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