Riverside Theatre to Hit the Cell Block with CHICAGO This January
Riverside Theatre, led by Producing Artistic Director/CEO Allen D. Cornell and Managing Director/COO Jon R. Moses, present Broadway's longest-running American musical, Chicago, which performs on the Stark Stage from January 3 - 22, 2017. Chicago is sponsored by Laura and Bill Frick and Riverside Theatre's Patron Producers Group.
Winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Chicago holds the record for the longest-running revival AND the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the show follows chorus girl Roxie Hart and the murder of her faithless lover. She convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap, but when he finds out the truth, he turns on her. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie meets Velma Kelly, another "merry murderess". Joining forces, Roxie and Velma vie for the spotlight in search of the "American Dream" of fame, fortune and acquittal.
In the early 1920s, Chicago newspapers became captivated by the subject of murders committed by women. There were several high-profile cases during the era and the Chicago Tribune assigned Maurine Dallas Watkins to cover two murder trials in 1924, that of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner. Ms. Watkins' notes and articles became the basis of her play and the subsequent musical.
The changing views of women during the Jazz Age lead to a long string of acquittals by all-male juries in Chicago. These juries gained a reputation of absolving attractive women from all charges by believing their "sob stories", merited or not. Coverage of these trials made these female defendants into national celebrities.
The character of Roxie Hart in Chicago is based on Beulan Annan, who at the age of 23 was accused of murder in April 1924. The Tribune reported that Annan played the foxtrot record "Hula Lou" over and over for two hours before calling her husband to say she had killed a man who "tried to make love to her". She was found not guilty in May 1924.
The character of Velma Kelly is based on Belva Gaertner, who was a cabaret singer and society divorcée accused of killing Walter Law. He was discovered in her abandoned car in March 1924. Even though two police officers testified that they saw a woman getting into the car and shortly thereafter hearing gunshots, Gaertner was acquitted in June 1924.
The columns Ms. Watkins wrote documenting these trials became so celebrated, she wrote a play based on them. Receiving both popular and critical acclaim, the play made it to Broadway in 1926 and was made into two subsequent films - Cecil B. DeMille's silent version in 1927 and an adaptation starring Ginger Rogers in 1942.
In the 1960s, Gwen Verdon read the play and asked her husband, Bob Fosse, about the possibility of creating a musical adaptation. Fosse approached playwright Watkins numerous times to buy the rights, but she repeatedly declined since she had become a born-again Christian and believed her play glamorized a scandalous way of living. Upon her death in 1969, her estate sold the rights to Verdon, Fosse, and Richard Fryer.
With John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical score, and Fosse's direction and choreography, Chicago opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran for 936 performances until 1977. Following a West End debut in 1979 which ran for 600 performances, Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End.
The Broadway revival holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind only The Phantom of the Opera, having played over 8,300 performances.
The West End revival ran for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history.
Riverside Theatre's production of Chicago will be directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford and stars Sarah Bowden as Velma Kelly, Kaitlyn Davidson as Roxie Hart, Kevin Pariseau as Billy Flynn, Dane Agostinis as Amos Hart, and Meghan Colleen Moroney as Matron Mama Morton.
The Chicago cast includes: Andrés Acosta, Annelise Baker, Jordan Beall, Sarah Buscaino, Erin Chupinsky, Joseph Cullinane, Natalia Lepore Hagan, April Holloway, David Paul Kidder, Corey Mosello, Drew Nellessen, Adam Rogers, Jessica M. Seavor, and Lauren Sprague.
The design and production crew includes: Ken Clifton (Music Director), James Dardenne (Scenic Designer), Yael Lubetzky (Lighting Designer), Kurt Alger (Costume/Wig Designer), Craig Beyrooti (Sound Designer), Mark Johnson (Production Stage Manager) and Amy M. Bertacini (Assistant Production Stage Manager). Casting was done in New York City by Wojcik / Seay Casting.
Chicago performs January 3 - 22, 2017 on the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre. Tickets start at $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at www.riversidetheatre.com.
Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Opening Night (the first Tuesday performance), Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; with matinees on Wednesdays, select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Performance Schedule: January 3, 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 & 21 @ 8pm; January 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 21 & 22 @ 2pm; January 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 18 & 19 @ 7:30pm.
The Stark Stage season also includes: Private Lives (January 31 - February 19), Mame (March 7 - 26) and Saturday Night Fever (April 11 - 30). The Waxlax Second Stage season includes: An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf (January 17 - February 5) and The Christians (March 21 - April 9).