Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. The original Broadway production opened on 1 June 1975 and was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, running for 898 performances. The current Broadway revival opened on 14 November 1996, and was directed by Walter Bobbie, with choreography by Ann Reinking. The revival is still running.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
As the OVERTURE ends, we’re introduced to Velma Kelly – a vaudevillian who shot the other half of her sister act when she caught her husband with her sister. Velma invites us to sample ALL THAT JAZZ while showing us the story of chorus girl Roxie Hart’s cold-blooded murder of nightclub regular Fred Casely. Roxie convinces her husband Amos that the victim was a burglar, and he cheerfully takes the rap.
Roxie expresses her appreciation in song (FUNNY HONEY) until the police reveal to Amos that Roxie knew the burglar, shall we say, intimately, and Amos decides to let her swing for herself. Roxie’s first taste of the criminal justice system is the women’s block in Cook County Jail, inhabited by Velma and other merry murderesses (CELL BLOCK TANGO). The women’s jail is presided over by Matron “Mama” Morton whose system of mutual aid (WHEN YOU’RE GOOD TO MAMA) perfectly suits her clientele. She has helped Velma become the media’s top murderer-of-the-week and is acting as booking agent for Velma’s big return to vaudeville (after her acquittal, naturally.)
Velma is not happy to see Roxie, who is stealing not only her limelight but her lawyer, Billy Flynn. Eagerly awaited by his all-girl clientele, Billy sings his anthem, complete with a chorus of fan-dancers to prove (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 and Velma’s headlines, trial date and career are left in the dust ROXIE). 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.
Back after the ENTR’ACTE, Velma cannot believe 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 (MISTER CELLOPHANE). Velma desperately tries to show Billy all the tricks she’s got planned for her trial (WHEN VELMA TAKES THE STAND). Billy’s forte may be showmanship (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 is over. Left in the dust, she pulls herself up and extols the joys of life NOWADAYS. She teams up with Velma in that sister act and they dance their little hearts out (HOT HONEY RAG) ’til they are joined by the entire company for the grand FINALE.
Purchases from Amazon.com
From left to right above: 1. Chicago Original Broadway Cast CD. 2. Chicago Broadway Revival Cast CD. 3. Chicago London Revivial Cast CD. 4. Chicago Film Soundtrack. 5. Chicago Film Soundtrack with Limited Edition Bonus DVD. Selected Chicago Karaoke MP3’s can be purchased and downloaded by following the links in the synopsis above.
From left to right above: 1. Chicago Film DVD – Widescreen. 2. Chicago Film DVD – Special Edition. 3. Roxie Hart – DVD. 4. Fosse – DVD. 5. Chicago Vocal Selections – Film. Selected Chicago Karaoke MP3’s can be purchased and downloaded by following the links in the synopsis above.