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Video Flashback: Roxie Returns as CHICAGO Makes 1996 Debut at City Center Encores!

Today as we celebrate a landmark 21 years since the long-running revival of Kander and Ebb's Chicago landed on Broadway, let's venture way back in time to when the revival made its world premiere at City Center Encores.

In May of 1996, a concert version of the musical was staged at City Center Encores!, the long-running program which "celebrates the rarely heard works of America's most important composers and lyricists...Encores! gives three glorious scores the chance to be heard as their creators originally intended."

The production was directed by Walter Bobbie and featured choreography "in the style of Bob Fosse". Ann Reinking starred as Roxie Hart, with future Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth as Velma Kelly, Joel Grey as Amos Hart and James Naughton as Billy Flynn.

The show was met with praise with the New York Times Ben Brantley writing, "'Make love to the audience' was another Fosse dictum. That's exactly what Ms. Reinking and her ensemble do."

Throughout the spring of 1996, rumors began to swirl about Broadway production, and in autumn of that year, the show opened at the then Martin Beck Theater (currently the Al Hirschfeld) to rapturous reviews. It was the winner of six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Cast Recording.

With a legendary book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Chicago is now the #1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history.

Produced by Barry and Fran Weissler. 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, sound design by Scott Lehrer and casting by Stewart/Whitley.

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.

Go back to where it all started here, with this rare performance from Anne Reinking as she debuts her take on the infamous Roxie Hart at City Center Encores! in spring of 1996.

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From This Author Alexa Criscitiello