Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse: Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Based on the play Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Produced in London, 1979 and revised in 1997
46th Street Theatre 3 June 1975 (898 perfs)
In razzle-dazzle, roaring twenties Chicago, Roxie Hart, married chorine, murders a faithless lover. Roxie and a sister murderess, Velma Kelly, are both headline hunters seeking to capitalise on pre-trial publicity for the sake of acquittal and stage careers. The story is told through a succession of vaudeville acts: Roxie's pre-trial prison career, the trial itself in which she is defended by the slickest lawyer in town, and her acquittal and return to obscurity.
Chicago is a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery-all those things we hold near and dear to our heart. It is jurisprudence-as-showbusiness and trial-by-publicity. It is a tale of the sensational murderess Velma Kelly, the reigning queen of the Cook County jail, and Roxie Hart, the newest of the merry murderesses, who, of course, haven't really committed any crime (their men had it coming).
Velma won't give Roxie the time of day, so she turns to the jailhouse matron for advice. For a small bribe, the matron tips Roxie to Billy Flynn, the legal Mr. Fix-it, who knows everything about women, juries, and how to weave sympathy into the press conferences he holds for his clients. As her mouthpiece (using her as a ventriloquist's dummy), Billy pulls the strings that make Roxie the new queen of the self-defence killers.
Since no woman has been hanged in Cook County in 47 years, it seems only a short time until she can parlay all the publicity into vaudeville stardom. Roxie has bumped Velma off the front pages, stolen her lawyer, even her court date. Now, Velma tries to persuade Roxie to do a sister act.
Remembering her treatment earlier, Roxie returns the cold shoulder. Roxie is a star, a single, until Go-to-Hell Kitty, the most sensuous murderess yet, comes on the scene. Roxie, realising she could quickly lose all she has gained, faints and announces that she is going to have a baby. Refusing to go along with the courthouse charade, an innocent girl is found guilty and hanged-breaking the 47 year tradition. Velma and Roxie both panic and plead with Billy to get their cases over with in a hurry.
They are found innocent, of course, but at the moment of Roxie's triumph another woman shoots up the courthouse and steals all the headlines. Roxie and Velma shrug as if to say That's show biz and decide to salvage as much publicity as they can by doing the sister act-and all that jazz!
- Overture – Orchestra
- All That Jazz – Velma Kelly and Company
- Funny Honey – Roxie Hart, Amos Hart and Sergeant Fogarty
- Cell Block Tango – Velma and the Murdresses
- When You're Good to Mama – Matron Mama Morton
- All I Care About – Billy Flynn and the Girls
- A Little Bit of Good – Mary Sunshine
- We Both Reached for the Gun – Billy, Roxie, Mary and the Reporters
- Roxie – Roxie and the Boys
- I Can't Do It Alone – Velma
- Chicago After Midnight – Orchestra
- My Own Best Friend – Roxie and Velma Act 2
- Entr'acte – Orchestra
- I Know a Girl – Velma
- Me and My Baby – Roxie and Company
- Mr. Cellophane – Amos
- When Velma Takes the Stand – Velma and the Boys
- Razzle Dazzle – Billy and Company
- Class – Velma and Mama Morton
- Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag – Velma and Roxie
- Finale – Company
The unfailing brightness and sheer good fun of Chicago do nothing to disguise the satire at its core. This exuberant American musical... Its music and lyrics are at all times splendidly apt... Plays and Players
CASTING: 19 parts, 5 principals, (M9 F 10) 14 members of strong dance chorus who sing and double parts.
Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, featured dancers, act and sing.
Billy, dashing, mature actor, sings.
Matron, character woman with strong singing voice, dances.
Amos Hart, character man, sings.
Liz, Annie, June, Hunyak, Mona
Four girls in the chorus are exceptional support dancers with good voices.
Jazz, tap, male striptease (to shorts), production numbers.
One basic set to suggest various venues: Chicago, a bedroom, the jail, a Courtroom, etc.
SCENES AND SETS: 2 acts, a unit set. Billy's office fly-in, set pieces, jail bar units, courtroom, furniture on winch wagon units. Elevators, one large drum up center on platform level, and four small pivot drum elevators at the four corners of the center drum. Winch-driven wagon brings on the partial set units. "Chicago" logo scrim.
Reed 1 (soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet, piccolo), Reed 2 (soprano sax, tenor sax, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet), Reed 3 (soprano sax, tenor sax, clarinet, baritone sax, bass clarinet), Trumpets 1 & 2, Trombone 1, Trombone 2, Tuba/Bass, Banjo, Violin, Percussion, Keyboard 1, Keyboard 2, piano/conductor's score.
LIGHTING AND SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Tight, dramatic, colorful lighting throughout. Backstage follow spot. Neon signs: -Chicago-the late 20's" and "Roxie" in a rainbow (optional).
PERIOD AND COSTUMES:
Chicago, Illinois, late 1920's. Extensive costuming to dress the bare unit set. Sequin dresses, satin teddies, striped net jail robes, black bikinis, black trench coats, black tights, vest and bowler, high button shoes, fleshcolored tights, G-strings, policeman's uniform, pinstripe suits (red, blue, and green), goldpatterned suit, brocade vests, wigs, lace dresses, female white tuxedo jackets, top hats and canes, wide-brimmed hats, body stockings, floral robes, work and casual clothes, clown pants, shirt, coat, and red clown shoes, celluloid collars for men, maternity dress, hanky and furs, female reporting dresses and suit, assorted leotards and flashy dresses, judge's robe.