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CHICAGO

About The Production
"I'm amazed by how enduring this little story has turned out to be,” screenwriter Bill Condon says of "Chicago's” enduring cultural relevance. "Maurine Dallas Watkins's original play ushered in a generation of cynical, wise-cracking newspaper comedies. It actually opened a few months before ‘The Front Page.' In 1975, Bob Fosse cast a darker light on the material. The corruption of the legal system became a metaphor for the hollowness of all American institutions. Like so much popular art of the time, it was informed by the twin traumas of Vietnam and Watergate. Then ‘Chicago' was revived in 1996, on the heels of the O.J. Simpson case, and the show business metaphor really came into focus. People connected to it in a completely new way. As for the movie, I suspect that the blurring of the line between notoriety and celebrity will make a lot of sense in our post-Monica age.” 

"It's fun and it's a great ride, but what it says is rather dark,” director Rob Marshall agrees. "It's about the perversity of celebrity, and who we choose to celebrate.”

Inspired by the highly sensationalized trials of Cook County, Chicago Tribune court reporter Maurine Watkins penned the first incarnation of "Chicago.” The play, originally titled "The Brave Little Woman,” opened to rave reviews when it was produced in 1926. Two film adaptations followed: "Chicago,” a silent film released in 1927, and "Roxie Hart,” starring Ginger Rogers, which was released in 1942 by Twentieth Century Fox. Though the satire was specific to a certain time and place, Watkins's tale of murder and media manipulation would prove both prophetic and timeless.

In 1975, Broadway veterans John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse adapted "Chicago” as an acclaimed Broadway musical. Stage legends Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera originated the roles of Roxie and Velma, respectively. The production was a great success, once again punctuating the consistent popularity of seduction and murder.

But "Chicago's” story isn't its only timeless element. The lyrics and melodies provided by Kander and Ebb enhanced the universality of Watkins's clever play. The choreography by Fosse added a trademark sensuality. "John Kander and Fred Ebb are American heroes when it comes to the theater,” executive producer Neil Meron explains of the importance of the trio's contribution to "Chicago.” "A good song, a good lyric, a good melody withstands the test of time. I think that's really true of the words and music of ‘Chicago.' They're fun, they're sharp, they're sarcastic, they're sexy, they're biting. They hold up now, they'll hold up in the future, they'll hold up when we're long gone, and they'll hold up in interplanetary video distribution.” 

Miramax Films optioned the rights to the Kander, Ebb and Fosse musical in 1994 from producer Marty Richards and began the arduous process of transforming the lauded stage production into a film. Despite the popularity and success of the adapting and casting the musical proved more difficult than anticipated. "The whole stage production was created as a vaudeville. That was one of the hardest things about bringing it to film, because no one sings to each other,” Marshall explains. "In most musicals, you see people sing songs to each other. They don't sing to an audience. There is no audience. There's the fourth wall.” 

But Marshall thought of a way to obliterate the fourth wall. 

No stranger to musicals, Marshall had collaborated with "Chicago's” executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan on their highly acclaimed, award winning television productions of "Cinderella” and "Annie,” for which Marshall won an Emmy. Marshall also co-directed and choreographed the Tony Award winning Broadway revival of Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret” with "American Beauty” director Sam Mendes. 

Following this string of achievements, Marshall met<

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