10 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicago (…and All That Jazz)
It goes without saying that John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical, Chicago, is one of the most iconic shows in theatre history. From its storyline to music — not to mention Bob Fosse’s beautiful staging — it’s one of those shows that is quintessential Broadway. And once you hear a few beats of the opening number, it’s nearly impossible to not start doing jazz hands.
While any fan might know the script inside and out, here are some fun facts that’ll be sure to give you the ol’ razzle dazzle:
Ann Reinking, who won a 1997 Tony for choreographing Chicago “in the style of Bob Fosse,” first played Roxie in 1977 in Fosse’s original Broadway production. (Source)
Chicago is based on a real-life 1924 Windy City murder case that was transformed by reporter Maurine Watkins into a 1926 Broadway comedy. (Source)
The original Chicago production opened in 1975 and ran for 936 performances. After the break in 1977, it was revived on Broadway and started running again in 1996. Chicago now ranks as Broadway’s longest running revival, having played in 24 countries in 12 languages. As of 2018, more than 8,000 performances have been clocked in at Broadway. (Source)
In the beginning of the scene (in the Chicago film) introducing Mama Morton to the new inmates, Roxie Hart had a brief conversation with a woman smoking a cigarette. That character was played by long-time Broadway actress Chita Rivera, who portrayed Velma Kelly in the original 1975 production of Chicago. (Source)
In addition to its six Tony Awards, Chicago has won a Grammy for its original cast album, plus an Olivier Award, three El Heraldo Awards, three Asociacion Mexicana de Criticos de Teatro Awards, two Helpman Awards, four Guldmasken Awards and two Premio Qualidade Brasil Awards for its international productions. (Source)
Roxie and Velma toss out eight roses to the audience at the end of each performance. As of November 13, 2012, a total of 53,120 roses have been flung into the crowd. (Source)
Chicago has received cast recordings in English (Broadway and London productions), German and Dutch. (Source)
Adapted in collaboration with iTheatrics, Kander & Ebb's legendary and award-winning musical about fame, fortune and acquittal is now widely available to be performed by High Schools across the world – and Samuel French is even hosting a Compeition to give away free licenses to ten schools! Check it out here.
Ten years after opening on Broadway as Velma, Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth jumped to the role of Roxie. Ruthie Henshall played both Velma and Roxie in the London production. (Source)
Chicago has played more than 15,000 performances worldwide to audiences totaling more than 17 million people.