Chicago is a musical set in Prohibition-era Chicago. The music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal". The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on.
The original Broadway production opened June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances. Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. Chicago's 1996 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on Broadway, not counting the revue Oh! Calcutta!, and is Broadway's sixth longest-running show. As of December 2010, it has played for more than 5,800 performances. The musical was produced in London's West End and on several tours and international productions. The Academy Award-winning film version (2002) of the musical was directed by Rob Marshall and starred Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, and Queen Latifah
Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville opened on June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre, and ran for a total of 936 performances, closing on August 27, 1977. The opening night cast starred Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly, Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart, Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn and Barney Martin as Amos Hart. Velma Kelly had been a comparatively minor character in all versions of Chicago prior to the musical rendering. The role was fleshed out to balance Chita Rivera's role opposite Gwen Verdon's Roxie Hart.
The musical received mixed reviews. The Brechtian style of the show, which frequently dropped the fourth wall, made audiences uncomfortable. According to James Leve, "'Chicago' is cynical and subversive, exploiting American cultural mythologies in order to attack American celebrity culture."
The show opening the same year as Michael Bennett's highly successful A Chorus Line, which beat out Chicago in both ticket sales and at the Tony Awards. The show was on the verge of closing, when it ran into another setback: Gwen Verdon had to have surgery on nodes in her throat. The producers contemplated closing the show, but Liza Minnelli stepped in and offered to play the role of Roxie Hart in place of Verdon. Her run lasted a month, boosting the show's popularity, and Gwen Verdon recuperated and returned to the show. Later during the run, Ann Reinking, who would go on to star in the highly successful 1996 revival and choreograph that production in the style of Bob Fosse, was also a cast replacement for Roxie Hart during the show's original run
1975 Tony Awards:
* Best Musical (Nominee)
* Best Leading Actor in a Musical—Jerry Orbach (Nominee)
* Best Leading Actress in a Musical—Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon (Nominees)
* Best Direction of a Musical—Bob Fosse (Nominee)
* Best Choreography—Bob Fosse (Nominee)
* Best Book of a Musical—Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb (Nominee)
* Best Original Score—Fred Ebb, John Kander (Nominee)
* Best Scenic Design—Tony Walton (Nominee)
* Best Costume Design—Patricia Zipprodt (Nominee)
* Best Lighting Design—Jules Fisher (Nominee