Category Archives: Bank of America Theatre

The Inspiration for CHICAGO: Two Merry Murderesses

The origin of the Academy Award and Tony Award-winning musical CHICAGO lies here in its namesake city, from a ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ tale of two female killers on ‘Murderesses Row’ in the roaring 20’s.

CHICAGO the Musical is based off the 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, the reporter assigned to cover the 1924 trials of murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. Watkins loosely based Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn and other characters in the play off the individuals involved in these famed Chicago courtroom proceedings.

Left: Belva Gaertner, Right: Beulah Annan

Left: Belva Gaertner, the inspiration for Velma Kelly Right: Beulah Annan, the inspiration for Roxie Hart. Source: retrokimmer.com

Although there is a lot of truth in the story told by the play and musical, not everything completely matches up with the real life events during the trials.

Belva Gaertner was, in fact, a jazz singer in Chicago back in her time – whether or not she was well-known is inconclusive. Some famous jazz joints during the era were Friar’s Inn, located in the basement of a building formerly at the corner of east Van Buren and south Wabash, and Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, located at 4802 North Broadway and still standing today. However, the actual reason Gaertner was sent to jail was not for killing her sister and husband because they were having an affair (as with Velma Kelly), but because she killed her lover with a gun in his car.

Roxie Hart’s matches Beulah Annan’s much more closely. Annan was accused of killing her lover in the bedroom of her home.  Annan didn’t go into full detail as to why she shot him, but it was most likely not because he lied to her about helping her become a famous jazz singer. Beulah Annan did change her story multiple times throughout the trial – first beginning with how “they both reached for the gun” and ending with the reason they both reached for the gun was because he just found out she was pregnant and he didn’t want to keep the baby.

Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner didn’t meet until they both were put on ‘Murderesses Row’ in the Cook County Jail. This was an actual cell block in the women’s section of the jail that housed Chicago’s most notorious killers. Annan and Gaertner were rumored to have set up their own beauty shop out of their jail cell. At this beauty shop the two would help other murderesses awaiting trial pick out outfits to wear and teach them how to do their hair and make-up for the day of their trials.

All trials took place at the Chicago City Courthouse, which still stands at the north-east corner of Clark and Randolph. Although Annan and Gaertner had different lawyers, both were high-profile names that were well-known in Chicago for getting their clients cleared of all charges. The two, William Scott Stewart and WW O’Brien,  take form as the savvy lawyer Billy Flynn in Watkins’ play.

The play was transformed into the musical that everyone loves today by the creative team of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse after Bob Fosse’s wife, Gwen Verdon, read the play and insisted it be made into a musical. Kander, Ebb and Fosse wanted the whole musical to really focus on the show-biz aspect of society. In order to achieve this overall focus, they created the entire score to reflect traditional vaudeville numbers such as in the song “We Both Reached For the Gun”.

Take a trip around Chicago to spot some of these well-known landmarks that played a part in the story behind the musical bearing its name. And be sure to catch the show when it’s back in town next week at the Bank of America Theatre for one week only, February 25 – March 2, 2014!

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Chicago, Chicago The Musical

WORLD PREMIERE! Amazing Grace opens in Chicago in October

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Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce the world premiere of AMAZING GRACE, a new musical starring Tony Award nominee® Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar) as John Newton, directed by Gabriel Barre (Andrew Lippas’ The Wild Party) and choreographed by Tony Award® winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), will play the Bank of America Theatre (18 W Monroe) this fall.  With music and lyrics by Christopher Smith and a book by Christopher Smith and Arthur GironAMAZING GRACE begins performances October 9 and runs through November 2.

AMAZING GRACE is a world premiere musical based on the awe-inspiring true story behind the world’s most beloved song.  A captivating tale of romance, rebellion and redemption, this radiant production follows one man whose incredible journey ignited a historic wave of change.

John Newton (Josh Young), a willful and musically talented young Englishman, faces a future as uncertain as the turning tide. Coming of age as Britain sits atop an international empire of slavery, he finds himself torn between following in the footsteps of his father – a slave trader – and embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart. But when a perilous voyage on the high seas finds John in his darkest hour, a transformative moment of self-reckoning inspires a blazing anthem of hope that will finally guide him home.

Brimming with emotion and adventure, AMAZING GRACE is an unforgettable musical saga that captures the spirit of history’s sweetest and most powerful sound: freedom.

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Filed under Amazing Grace, Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago

The Last Ship EXCLUSIVE Pre-Sale

Last Ship Logo with billing

 

As an EXCLUSIVE offer for our blog readers, you can access tickets to The Last Ship before they go on sale to the public! The new musical from Sting will have its pre-Broadway WORLD PREMIERE at the Bank of America Theatre June 10 – July 13, 2014. Use the offer code SOCIAL when purchasing your tickets. 

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Broadway In Chicago Gift Certificates: The Perfect Present for any Theatre Lover

It’s the time of year when we show our love and appreciation for the people in our lives who mean a lot to us. However, you may not always be certain of the best way to give back to them. If you know someone who is a theatre lover, but aren’t sure which show they’d like to see or when they’ll be free to see a show, Broadway In Chicago gift certificates are a fantastic idea. You can choose from any upcoming event that BIC has announced, which means if you have a Starcatcher or a Fansie in your household you can ensure they’ll have the capacity to purchase tickets when Peter and the Starcatcher or Newsies goes on sale. Not everyone has the chance to see a show when they want to either, so this is a perfect opportunity to give them something special that will make their holiday!

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You can purchase them online HERE  or at any theatre box office during operating hours (call (312) 977-1700 for the current week’s hours):

Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W. Randolph

Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph

Bank of America Theatre
18 W. Monroe

Broadway Playhouse
175 E. Chestnut

You can easily take care of gifts for fans of Broadway, theatre and the arts this holiday season. They’re also a great idea for any special occasion throughout the year.

Also, make sure you continue to check out The 12 Show Business Days of Broadway In Chicago for the chance to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming show and restaurant gift certificate! For the sixth day, we’re ‘presenting’ Rock of Ages, returning March 11-16, 2014 at the Bank of America Theatre.

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Broadway Playhouse, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Newsies, Oriental Theatre, Peter and the Starcatcher, Rock of Ages

NEWSIES Comes To Chicago December 2014

Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce that NEWSIES, the Tony Award-winning “critics’ pick” Broadway musical smash, will play the Bank of America Theatre (18 W Monroe) Dec. 10, 2014 through Jan. 4, 2015. NEWSIES will be part of the Broadway In Chicago 2014 Fall Season. Group tickets for 10 or more are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Individual tickets for NEWSIES will go on sale at a later date. For more information, visit our website or the NEWSIES tour site.  For instant updates, follow NEWSIES on Facebook and Twitter.
About NEWSIES:  Continue reading

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Newsies

burning the floor

BURN THE FLOOR begins February 1 and I can’t wait! I will be on the edge of my seat watching every step and turn. The beauty and stamina of professional dancers makes me gasp. I can’t wait to see Anya & Pasha and Ashleigh & Ryan from So You Think You Can Dance in person. I watch shows like So You Think Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars and say to myself… I could do that!

When I was about three years old I decided I would be a professional dancer. Until I broke my foot two years ago I took dance classes every week. But the odd thing is that since I was three, I’ve always been in the beginners class. That’s a lot of years as a beginner. I am small and kind of skinny so new teachers tend to have high hopes when I start their classes. It’s only after I do my first grand jete that I see their sad faces.

Book your tickets for BURN THE FLOOR even if you just dance around your living room like me and won’t be “burning the floor” anytime soon on TV or a Broadway stage. Use the code FOXTROT before when purchasing before 10 a.m. Saturday January 29 for $24 tickets! Valid for evening performances February 1st through 4th, 6th, 8th and 9th: http://bit.ly/fLmLeR.

The first three people who respond to this post with their favorite place and time to secretly “burn the floor” will get two complimentary tickets to Press Night February 1 at the Bank of America Theatre.

Gemma

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Burn The Floor

do you wanna dance?

Ballet and Boxing….what a great time! On Saturday, I went to Pritzker Park where the “Eye” is and had a ball watching the Joffrey and Lake Shore Athletic teach Ballet and Boxing – both take focus and what I learned is that everyone can have fun doing both – young and old, male or female – it was a blast! Make sure to check out the other exciting free events with the cast of BILLY ELLIOT.

 

 

This week we are planning the opening ROCK OF AGES and the opening of our new theatre THE BROADWAY PLAYHOUSE. ROCK OF AGES has taken off and looks like it will be a sell out. This is a show that will have you rockin’ in the aisles of the BANK OF AMERICA THEATRE, so don’t wait and hear the words sold out! Same for the opening of the BROADWAY PLAYHOUSE! AN EVENING WITH SUTTON FOSTER ticket sales have taken off and you don’t want to be left behind. To have the original star of five Broadway shows perform in such an intimate space and be the first to see the theatre is a priceless experience. Don’t miss out!

REMINDER: Only two weeks left of SHREK THE MUSICAL! It is a great summer night out for the whole family.

-Eileen

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Billy Elliot the Musical, Broadway Playhouse, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, Rock of Ages, Shrek The Musical