Category Archives: Chicago The Musical

Short & Sweet – CHICAGO

BiancaRoxie

Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart in CHICAGO the Musical

Diana Martinez gives you the Short & Sweet on CHICAGO the Musical. “It is the perfect blend of sexy Fosse dancing, spontaneous comedy, and big Broadway music.”

“The best casting decision is Bianca Marroquin as Roxie Hart: she is believable and full of honest moxie, effortlessly stealing the show. Marroquin is charming, funny, and captivating, but her strength lies in her amazing connection with the audience. She alone is worth the trip.” Read more at the Daily Herald

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Filed under Broadway In Chicago, Chicago, Chicago The Musical, Short and Sweet

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

mama said knock you out

Jersey Boys vs. ChicagoThere is always great camaraderie between casts of different shows, as well as a little rivalry. Casts live and work a different schedule than most of us. We enjoy theatre during our free time. They enjoy free time while we work. So a midnight game of Whirlyball is the perfect start to a Thursday evening. In case you are not familiar with Whirlyball, think of a cross between basketball and lacrosse – in bumper cars.

The cast of JERSEY BOYS challenged the cast of CHICAGO to a high stakes game a few weeks ago, and Timmy Quinlan, a member of the cast of JERSEY BOYS, had this to offer about his experience:

 

I can feel my heart beat faster. I know they’re bearing down on me. The goal is in my sights. If my aim is true, the tide will turn and life as we know it will never be the same.
I shoot.
Score!
The black team takes the lead. No time to celebrate, back to defend our turf. In my scoot, #31 black, I can’t be beat. She’s fast enough for you old man.
Sure, we’ll slap each other on the back later and say “good game,” but for these ten minutes, the battle rages on.
Here they come at full force, cradling the scuffed wiffle ball, holding onto their one bit of power. It’s all they have. That and their pride, but that won’t last long.
Two minutes to go and it’s looking good for Team Black. The ball ricochets off of the backboard. It rolls to the corner. I reach my scoop down, but I’m checked into the boards, hard. red #1. He’ll get his.
I see #15 black making a fast break. My scoot flies down the court, the wind blowing through my hair. I take out #8 red to ensure an open shot.
If only we can hold on long enough…

 

JERSEY BOYS walloped CHICAGO. RENT (beginning March 31) is the next opponent.

-Andrew, Marketing Director

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Filed under Chicago The Musical, Jersey Boys

Chicago in Chicago

I am on the plane heading back from Bangkok, and I think we have 3 more hours left before we touch down at O’Hare.

The Palace Grounds

The Grand Palace

Our journey to Asia was a whirlwind, to say the least, but an experience of a lifetime. The company enjoyed themselves thoroughly; it was great to come to the theatre every night to share each other’s stories. From the elephant riding to the canal tours, to the Grande Palace and Reclining Buddha, this CHICAGO cast could have written their own guide books chock full of photos,videos, and tidbits about Bangkok’s hidden treasures.

Now we have a couple of days to adjust, recover from jet lag, and acclimate to a much colder climate. I miss my flip flops already.

Not only are we happy to be returning to the US, but we are thrilled to be opening our show in the city where the story began. The last time I was in Chicago was when I rejoined the tour in 2005. I didn’t have the opportunity to explore or play tourist then, but I plan to make up for it this time around. I hear the Museums, shopping along Michigan Avenue, and sampling some of the great foods of the city are all not to be missed. This is going to be another memorable couple of weeks.

Till next time..
Terra C. MacLeod (Velma Kelly)

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Filed under Chicago The Musical, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre

finally

Spring. A time of sunshine. Flowers in bloom. Children selling lemonade on suburban sidewalks. And Spring Cleaning, the ritual of clearing out the miscellaneous unused and unwanted detritus that has accumulated during the cold winter months. It’s a time to reorganize, to refresh, to begin anew as the trees do, sprouting new leaves at the first sign of warmer weather.

Oriental lobby

Oriental lobby

So…we jumped the gun a bit! Though the air is freezing, the snow is falling, and people are hidden behind layers of down and fleece, the house crew at the Oriental along with several contracted companies have done quite the “spring cleaning” job on the Oriental Theatre! The entire stage area was restored to be shiny and new. We even replaced and repainted our entire stage floor! Holes were patched, three dumpsters worth of aforementioned detritus was removed, trap rooms were organized, bulbs replaced, paint applied and inventory taken.

Backstage areas were completely recarpeted and repainted as well as the bars and merchandise stands. A long “to-do” list got shorter and shorter by the day, as “the theatre that once housed “Wicked” turned itself back into the glorious “Oriental Theatre”.

We are excited for the audiences of our next production in the space, Chicago, to be the first to experience the splendor of a newly restored theatre!

-Stephanie, Production Associate

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Filed under Chicago The Musical, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, Wicked

new york, new york (and chicago)

Joan Marcus

Who Loves You? (l-r) Drew Gehling, Cory Grant, Bryan McElroy and Michael Ingersoll with the Company of Jersey Boys. Photo: Joan Marcus

I am headed to New York today. I will be in meetings tomorrow for JERSEY BOYS! We look forward to these meetings as the producers so love the Chicago Company and always want to do whatever they can to make JERSEY BOYS the success that it is in Chicago. And then later in the week, we are having meetings at the New York Nederlander offices to plan for future shows. We will be meeting with many of the producers of the upcoming shows and then also looking at what shows are coming up for us in the future. Perhaps out of my meetings this week , I will have some interesting news to report in next week’s blog post.

I will be seeing shows while in New York – two Tony Award winners – IN THE HEIGHTS and THE 39 STEPS. Not to worry I will be back in time for the opening of CHICAGO! Love that show, after all it is our namesake musical.

Okay, here is a treat: Tell us what Chicago suburb is named in one of the songs in CHICAGO, and you could win my two seats to our opening night on Thursday, February 26 @ 7:30 pm. You have to answer (correctly!) by Thursday, February 19. Then we’ll select the winner (yeah, random number generator).

See you in the theatre!
Eileen

EDIT: To answer the question, just leave it in the comments. Comments are not published right away, so be patient!

 

SECOND EDIT: WINNER IS EDUARDO MANIERO! Congrats! Someone will be emailing you with info on how to pick up your tickets. Enjoy!

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Chicago The Musical, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, Jersey Boys, New York

razzle-dazzle ’em

I rarely buy tickets for sporting events (I seem to spend even my days off going to theatre) but I am going to the Bulls game on February 24 and discovered that the JERSEY BOYS will be singing the national anthem at the game. I shouldn’t have been surprised – a long-running show like JERSEY BOYS (18 months and counting) requires a lot of work. When I try to describe my friends or family all the marketing and PR that goes into promoting a show, it is mind boggling. Appearances like the anthem at the Bulls Game are just one of the elements that make a hit a hit!

John O'Hurley

John O'Hurley

Talking about appearances, today John O’Hurley flew into Chicago and is doing interviews all over town to publicize CHICAGO THE MUSICAL, which will play February 25 through March 8. He is being a great sport…jumping in and out of cabs in the rain all the while remaining suave and sophisticated. Maybe all his training when he was on Dancing With The Stars is coming into play. Of course, he did play Elaine’s boss on Seinfeld, Mr. Peterman, who traveled to exotic places all over the globe. In real life he is the same kind of trooper.

The rest of the CHICAGO cast is a very exotic place right now – Bangkok! Their blog is fascinating. They fly straight from Bangkok to Chicago. That is definitely an unusual tour schedule.

-Gemma

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Filed under Bank of America Theatre, Chicago The Musical, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, Jersey Boys