Opened: Original Broadway Production - June 3, 1975 and revived in 1996 on Broadway
Chicago Director: Walter Bobbie
Chicago Music By: John Kander, Fred Ebb, Rob Fisher
Chicago Lyrics and Book By: Fred Ebb
Theatre: Ambassador Theatre
Tony Award Nominations: 8
Tony Awards Won: 6
Notes: The show would inspire the 2002 Academy Award-winning version which would win Best Picture.
Chicago has grown to become a Broadway institution and one of the longest-running plays in history. The musical that we all know and love today was based on the play Chicago, written in 1926 by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins who based the story on the crimes that she followed over the course of her career. The first musical version of the play debuted in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances, but it was the revival in 1996 that captured the public's imagination and has remained a Broadway staple ever since.
The musical's story follows the ambitious performer Roxie Hart, who murders her lover and convinces her pushover husband Amos to take the blame. After police put the facts together and lay the blame at Roxie's feet, she ends up in jail. It is there where she meets up with Velma Kelly, another talented singer who is a murderess herself after killing her husband and sister after finding them in bed together. Matron "Mama" Morton helps Roxie gain pre-trial headlines and sympathy in the press and manages her return into vaudeville. This helps Roxie steal the limelight from Velma, and her high-profile lawyer Billy Flynn. After appealing to Roxie to start a "sister act," Roxie ultimately turns her down and learn a tough lesson about self-reliance.
The audience learns that Roxie is pregnant late in the second act, and this becomes a recurring focus as the play progresses. When the trial date finally comes, Billy Flynn encourages the girls to put on a show in the courtroom to appease the jury, but another malicious crime grabs the back pages and effectively ends Roxie's solo career. After revealing to Amos that there is no baby, Roxie is left alone with very little options. Thankfully, the play has a happy ending with Velma and Roxie planning a new act together.
Chicago reopened at the Richard Rodgers theatre on November 14, 1996, but soon moved to the Shubert Theatre where it would stay for half a decade. Finally in 2003, the production moved to the Ambassador Theatre where it resides to this day. With nearly 6,000 performances, Chicago is one of the longest-running revivals in Broadway history and won an impressive six Tony Awards. The show is truly Broadway royalty and has many bright years ahead.