Chicago combines passion, adultery, crime, murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation and betrayal, set in the city of Chicago in the jazz era and making it one of the most shocking phenomena in the recent history of musical comedy.
The show is based on the homonymous play published in 1926 by journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins, based on the actual crimes she had covered for the Chicago Tribune. The story is a critique of the corruption of the judicial system and the concept of star criminals.
The visual concept of Chicago is extraordinary: the lighting acquires a leading role that completely envelops the entire atmosphere highlighting the choreography of Bob Fosse with group displays and specific actions for each character, where the actors wear stylized black suits. A few chairs and side stairs are the only components of its minimalist scenery since Chicago is committed to empty space and the color black.
The band is part of the stage, breaking with the tradition that musicians are in the pit, and this gives a different musical touch since the breaths, percussions, and strings are part of the soul of the show.
It is a multifaceted work, where artists who play the main roles achieve top-level performances.
The interleaving of the songs and the dance as narrative gear, exalting the plot is achieved in a masterly way by configuring a wonderful artifice as a means of fusion between reality and fantasy.
Chicago tells the story of two murderers, Roxie Hart (who kills her lover) and Velma Kelly (who kills her husband and her sister in cold blood during a musical tour), both are held in women’s jail in the county of Cook, where Mamma Morton is the matron of the place. Both use a series of tricks to get out of jail and hire lawyer Billy Flynn.
The contents of this story touch on issues as current as a criticism of the media, eager for sensational news and the desire for fame.
Chicago first premiered on Broadway in 1975 with Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera in the star roles. That same year “A Chorus Line” was released and overshadowed the success of Chicago.
Its creators Bob Fosse (original director and choreographer) and John Kander and Fred Ebb (lyricists) are recognized worldwide.
Fosse is one of the few characters that has won an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy in the same year. He possesses a great legacy that recognizes a certain style of dance with his name. Kander and Ebb for their part have written the lyrics of classics such as Spider Woman’s Kiss and Cabaret and are also authors of the New York-New York theme, originally written for a homonymous Martin Scorsese film and immortalized by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli.
In 2002, the Chicago film was released under the direction of Rob Marshall, with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah and Christine Baranski in the leading roles.
Chicago stands for success. It is enough to mention that it is the American musical with the longest seasons both in New York, where it has 23 years of continuous permanence and in London, where it remained on the billboard for more than 15 years. It also ranks second as the most successful show in the history of Broadway, after it beat Cats in 2014. Currently, Chicago exceeds 9 thousand continuous performances in the Mecca of the Musical Theater.
Chicago has had seasons in 36 countries on all continents; It has been seen in 500 cities and cheered by more than 31 million people around the world. With more than 33,000 functions worldwide, Chicago has received dozens and dozens of awards, including six Tony Awards, five Drama Desk, five Outer Critics’ Circle and a Grammy.
In 2002 he was taken to the big screen under the direction of Rob Marshall. This film version was acclaimed by critics and won six Oscar awards, including best film, being the first musical film to obtain such an award since 1969.
Among the performers and celebrities who have participated in the show during their long season are Ute Lemper, Ashlee Simpson, Brooke Shields, Cuba Gooding Jr., America Ferrera, Kelly Osbourne, Lynda Carter, Maria Friedman, Michelle Williams, Kevin Richardson, Mel B Melanie Griffith, Patrick Swayze, Sofia Vergara, and Usher.
In addition, Chicago has allowed artists from different international productions to make their Broadway debut, including of course Bianca Marroquín, in addition to Anna Montanaro (Austria), Caroline O’Connor (Australia), Larisa Dolina (Russia), Pasquale Aleardi (Germany), Petra Nielsen (Sweden), Pia Douwes (Netherlands) and Ryoko Yonekura (Japan).
In Mexico, the work was presented for the first time in 2001, with a season that exceeded 300 performances and was the springboard for Bianca Marroquín to reach Broadway and be placed as an international star, which has triumphed on different continents, and has conquered theatrical, television and musical audience.
Now, Chicago is performing again in Mexico with Biby Gaitán, María León, Pedro Prieto and Michelle Rodríguez at the head of a masterful cast composed of 23 virtuosos of musical theater.
The creative team is headed by Tania Nardini, stage director; Gary Chryst, choreography; and Rob Fisher and Rob Bowman, musical supervision. They have worked with a brilliant team of Mexican creatives, among which are producers Morris Gilbert and Julieta González; Carolina Hertzel, resident director; Isaac Saul, musical director; and Elías Ajit, resident choreographer.
You can see Chicago in Mexico City at the Telcel Theater.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.