Chita's rendition of "All That Jazz" in the original 1975 production of Chicago goes down as a defining moment in the history of Broadway. Her entrance alone, rising from the floor in a sinewy Fosse pose, is a theatrical icon, the perfect melding of music, choreography, and a great star!

Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Book: Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
46th Street Theatre, (6/3/1975 - 8/27/1977)
Preview: May 12, 1975
Total Previews: 24
Opening: Jun 3, 1975
Closing: Aug 27, 1977
Total Performances: 936


Opening Night Production Credits
Theatre Owned / Operated by Coronet Theatre Corporation (Lester Osterman and Richard Horner).
Produced by Robert Fryer and James Cresson; Produced in association with Martin Richards, Joseph Harris and Ira Bernstein.
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Based on the play "Chicago" by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Musical Director: Stanley Lebowsky
Music orchestrated by Ralph Burns
Dance arrangements by Peter Howard.
Directed by Bob Fosse
Choreographed by Bob Fosse
Assistant Choreographer: Tony Stevens.
Scenic Design by Tony Walton
Costume Design by Patricia Zipprodt
Lighting Design by Jules Fisher
Sound Design by Abe Jacob
Hair Design by Romaine Green.
General Manager: Joseph Harris and Ira Bernstein.
Production Stage Manager: Phil Friedman
Stage Manager: Robert Corpora and Paul Phillips
Assistant Stage Mgr: Nick Malekos.
Music Contractor: Mel Rodnon
Assistant Conductor: Art Wagner.
Dance Captain: Graciela Daniele
Assistant to the Director: Kathryn Doby
Artwork logo by Tony Walton.

Opening Night Cast
Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly
Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart
Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn
Barney Martin as Amos Hart
Mary McCarty as Matron
M. O'Haughey as Mary Sunshine
Candy Brown as June
Hank Brunjes as Dance Alternate
Christopher Chadman as Fred Casely
Cheryl Clark as Liz
Graciela Daniele as Hunyak
Gene Foote as Aaron
Gary Gendell as Court Clerk
Richard Korthaze as Sergeant Fogarty
Michon Peacock as Annie
Charlene Ryan as Go-To-Hell-Kitty
Ron Schwinn as The Judge
Paul Solen as Harry
Pamela Sousa as Mona
Monica Tiller as Dance Alternate
Michael Vita as Martin Harrison
Standbys: Lenora Nemetz (Roxie Hart), Marsha Bagwell (Matron, Mary Sunshine).
Understudies: Michon Peacock (Velma Kelly), Richard Korthaze (Amos Hart).

Musical Numbers
• Overture
• All That Jazz
• Funny Honey
• Cell Block Tango
• When You're Good to Mama
• All I Care About (is love)
• We Both Reached for the Gun
• Roxie
• I Can't Do It Alone
• I Can't Do It Alone (Reprise)
• My Own Best Friend
• Entr'acte
• I Know a Girl
• Me and My Baby
• Mr. Cellophane
• When Velma Takes the Stand
• Razzle Dazzle
• Class
• Nowadays
• Hot Honey Rag
• Finale

Based on a 1926 play by Chicago Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who murders her unfaithful husband, then manages not only to avoid prison with the help of razzle-dazzle lawyer Billy Flynn, but uses the trial to propel herself to showbiz stardom along with another murderous chorus girl, Velma Kelly. In addition to the extraordinary pairing of Chita and Gwen Verdon, the dark (but light-hearted) parable of American justice was a sexy musical extravaganza that included one show-stopping number after another, buoyed by unforgettable Fosse choreography.

Kander and Ebb lured Chita back to New York after an eight-year absence to star as Velma Kelly, opposite Gwen Verdon as Roxie, in their new musical, Chicago. As soon as she arrived in New York, however, Chita learned that rehearsals had been postponed because director/choreographer Bob Fosse was ill. To keep her busy until the show was back on track, Fred Ebb, who had written a highly-successful nightclub act for Chita in the ‘60s, went to work on a new act, which opened at The Grand Finale to rave reviews and capacity crowds.

Finally, Chicago opened to excellent reviews. During the run of the show, Gwen Verdon was diagnosed with nodes on her throat requiring surgery. During her five-week recovery, Chita co-starred with Liza Minnelli for the first time. Verdon’s name was never removed from the marquee; an announcement was made at each performance announcing Minnelli’s appearance.

The show ran for almost two years (898 performances), and after Gwen Verdon left the show, the then 26 year old Ann Reinking took over as Roxie Hart, with Lenora Nemetz as Velma Kelly.

Chicago was revived on Broadway with choreography by Ann Reinking "in the style of Bob Fosse." This production spawned a national tour and went on to win 6 Tony Awards including "Best Revival of a Musical," "Best Lighting Design," "Best Choreography" and "Best Direction of a Musical." In accepting her Tony for play Velma Kelly, Bebe Newirth recognized Chita for originating the role and identified her as a “Goddess of the American Theatre.”

Chita appeared as Roxie in the Toronto, Las Vegas, and London companies of this production, but has refused repeated entreaties to play the role on Broadway. She also makes a cameo appearance in the newly released film version. Other collaborations by Kander and Ebb include Kiss of the Spider Woman, Zorba, and The Visit.


Click on the Sample () link for a preview of the music!
MP3 format

"All That Jazz"


 

 

Synopsis:
As the shows opens, Roxie Hart, a married woman, is in bed with her lover. When he tells her the affair is over she shoots him dead. She convinces her husband Amos to say he did it, but when Amos finds out it was their furniture salesman and not the burglar Roxie claimed, Amos realizes that he's been deceived and lets his wife go off to jail. Meanwhile, Velma Kelly, one of the "merry murderesses" in the Cook County Jail, has become famous for shooting her husband and her sister when she found them in bed together. Velma's lawyer Billy Flynn, who specializes high profile cases, takes on Roxie’s case. He plays Velma and Roxie off against one another, depending upon the press each is attracting. Roxie catches on quickly and announces to the press that she's pregnant (even though she's not). Now that Roxie has become even more famous than Velma, Velma tries to get Roxie to put together a two-woman vaudeville act (. Roxie is found innocent, but she's become old news like Velma, and the two decide that only in America could a couple of nobodies come this far.

Chicago is told completely through vaudeville style acts, many of them direct imitations of famous real vaudeville acts. With Bob Fosse directing and choreographing, the show was getting more and more sexually explicit until the producers demanded he clean it up a little (although it was still pretty shocking). The score is a magnificent recreation of the music of the late 1920s, including great songs like "All That Jazz" (imitating speakeasy performer Texas Guinan), "Razzle Dazzle," "Cell Block Tango," "When You're Good to Mama" (imitating Sophie Tucker), "Mister Cellophane" (imitating Bert Williams), and many others.


The Journey
* 1926 -- Chicago opened on December 30 at the Music Box Theatre in New York City. It was a satirical tale about a murderess named Roxie Hart whose money-grubbing lawyer so manipulated the press that she was freed to become a vaudeville star. Produced by Sam H. Harris and directed by George Abbott the play ran for 182 performances. It was based on its author Maurine Dallas Watkins's experience as a newspaper reporter assigned to cover a series of Chicago trials of women murderers. The cast featured Francine Larrimore as Roxie Hart, Juliette Crosby as Velma and Isabelle Winlock as Mrs. Morton (no "Mama" in this version).
* 1928--Watkins' play was made into a movie, retaining its title, Chicago
* 1942--another film based on the play, this time named Roxie Hart, starred Ginger Rogers as Roxie and the debonair Adolphe Menjou as her greedy lawyer.
* 195?-- Choreographer Bob Fosse set into motion a long process for obtaining the right to turn Ms. Watkins play into a musical.
* 1975-- The rights issue settled at last, Fosse and the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb set to work on the musical adaptation of the Watkins' play. They jettisoned much of the newspaper background in favor of the story's show-business elements and expanded the character of Roxie's rival murderess Velma Kelly into a major role. In 1977, the show began touring in the U.S., and production companies were mounted in Germany and Great Britain. There was also a 1981 Australian production that played for several seasons.

The long-discussed, often-aborted plans for a film version of Bob Fosse's Tony Award-winning (1977) musical have finally come to fruition.
Chicago: The Movie
Studio: Miramax Films.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma Kelly); Renee Zellweger (Roxie Hart); Richard Gere (Billy Flynn); Queen Latifah (Matron "Mama" Morton); Christine Baranski (Mary Sunshine); John C. Reilly (Amos Hart); Mya (Mona); Deirdre Goodwin (Liz); Mary Ann Lamb (Annie); Colm Feore (Martin Harrison); Taye Diggs (The Band Leader); Lucy Liu (Go-To-Hell Kitty); Brad Garrett; Sebastian LaCause; Mark Calamia.

Rob Marshall (Director); Bill Condon, Wendy Wasserstein (Screenwriters); Marty Richards, Harvey Weinstein (Producers); Neil Moren, Craig Zadan (Executive Producers); Fred Ebb, John Kander (Musical Score); Fred Ebb (Lyricist.
Release Date: December 25, 2002.


This project has had a long history. Talk of producing Chicago as a film predates the success of the 1996 Tony-winning Broadway revival by far. Indeed, Miramax gained the rights to the film project sometime before the revival. Even back in the 1970s, there was talk of a film version with Liza Minnelli and Goldie Hawn. Before his death in 1987, Bob Fosse, himself, was thinking about it; he even met twice with Madonna to talk about her possible involvement, remarking that he would "win her an Oscar."
After the revival scored a hit, however, interested heated up quickly. Hawn’s name was still linked to the project and fans were hoping she and Madonna would team up for the film. It was not to be.

Rosie O'Donnell was mentioned as a possible Matron Mamma Morton, but backed away, preferring to spend time with her children while negotiating her “coming out” process. Bette Midler Pam Grier were mentioned as possible replacements.
John Travolta expressed interest in playing Billy Flynn, and Kevin Kline was rumored to be in the running as well.
As for other possible cast members, many were mentioned, including but not limited to Barbra Streisand, Nathan Lane, and Joel Grey. As for a director, although Rob Iscove looked like the front-runner for a while, followed by Herb Ross, Alan Parker, David Fincher, and Nicholas Hytner. It was Hytner who is said to have nixed Goldie Hawn; he was rumored to be replacing her with Charlize Theron of Celebrity and Mighty Joe Young. Scriptwriter Wendy Wasserstein had worked with director Hynter on The Object of My Affection.