VIDEO: Celebrate John Kander's Birthday With Kander & Ebb Performing CHICAGO's 'All That Jazz'
A FAMILY AFFAIR, a musical comedy about the family squabbles that heat up while planning a wedding, had three stars who were, rather famously, not exactly known for singing: comedian Shelley Berman and actors Eileen Heckart and Morris Carnovsky. Kander shared book, music and lyrics credit with playwright brothers James and William Goldman, but director Harold Prince had a hunch his melodies would work well with the lyrics of a young wordsmith named Ebb. As a character from another Harold Prince musical might say, it was a perfect match.
Their first show together, FLORA THE RED MENACE, helped their 19-year-old star Liza Minnelli win her first Tony Award, but the best for Kander and Ebb was yet to come. CABARET stunned audiences with its parallels between Nazi Germany and the opposition to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Chicago may have been overshadowed by A CHORUS LINE its first time out, but the current revival the second-longest running production in Broadway's history.
Their unique style often mixed grand showmanship with harsh social commentary, making musicals like ZORBA, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN and THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS so striking. But they could also just sit back and entertain you with fun scores like CURTAINS, WOMAN OF THE YEAR and 70, GIRLS, 70.
Fred Ebb passed on in 2004 and last season's Brechtian THE VISIT was the final Kander and Ebb collaboration to hit Broadway.
Directed by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Tony Award winner Ann Reinking, Chicago features set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony Award winner Ken Billington and sound design by Scott Lehrer.
Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago's slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today's tabloids.