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Eldergays, tell me about the ORIGINAL Broadway production of Chicago

Did it deserve to be eclipsed by the dated, schlocky Chorus Line? Did you realize you were seeing something bold, something ahead of its time? I was in high school when the revival opened and I remembered everyone saying how "prescient" the show was in predicting the age of the OJ trial. Man, it must have been thrilling to see Chita and Gwen together.

If you loved the original, were you still able to appreciate the revival? I know it's a joke now, but when it opened in the 90s and through the early 2000s it was such a cultural force.

by Anonymousreply 4704/17/2019

rehearsal footage featuring Chita and Gwen. I had no idea the main tune from the Overture was originally the melody of the show's closing number. Very cool.

by Anonymousreply 104/10/2019

I liked the revival better than the original. But, Gwen was better than anyone in revival cast.

by Anonymousreply 204/10/2019

interesting, r2. Do you recall what you preferred about the revival? Also, was Chita putting on a sort of "cutesie" doll voice to kind of match Gwen?

by Anonymousreply 304/11/2019

Gwen and Chita really did what Fosse intended. The unmatched in and out of synch moves were genius characterization that still built to something POW. I was not around in 1975 to see this but my bf did perform in Fosse for 18 months. Everything was much flashier and stylized by then. I think it was a bit of a natural evolution. It's like people thinking that Sally Bowles was a great singer and dancer, when Minnelli subtly was playing quite the opposite in Cabaret. Fosse was both perverse and flashy after all.

Anyway, enjoy.

by Anonymousreply 404/12/2019

R4 - that interview was fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

by Anonymousreply 504/12/2019

Thanks for this thread. I love it.

by Anonymousreply 604/12/2019

I loved the cast recording when it was released, but I was underwhelmed when I saw the production. Jerry Orbach seemed to be phoning it in. Gwen was fine; not great, just fine. Chita was out and, even though her understudy was strong, I was disappointed in her absence.

by Anonymousreply 704/12/2019

Chita and "the boys" do an amazing vegas style All That Jazz. She sure didn't have the ideal body for a dancer, but what a great dancer she was! 49 years old here.

by Anonymousreply 804/12/2019

Liza and Goldie were supposed to do the movie with Fosse directing. There was huge PR blitz to push the idea, which included a prime time TV special and having them show up together to that years Oscars. But nothing ever happened.

Oh, to think what could have been.

by Anonymousreply 904/12/2019

I saw it with all the original cast. I was a kid -- my parents took me to see it -- so a lot of it went over my head, but I did not like it. I saw the revival, and didn't like that, either. The show is too mean-spirited and unkind and cynical for me. I tend to dislike anything that has to do with celebrity worship, or with people striving to be famous. I was aware, however, that some of the dancing was pretty brilliant.

by Anonymousreply 1004/12/2019

I’ve only ever seen the movie but I loved it.

by Anonymousreply 1104/12/2019

R10, why do I get the impression you've stage doored Anastasia?

by Anonymousreply 1204/12/2019

I bet R10 really hates Gypsy.

by Anonymousreply 1304/12/2019

I know it’s sacrilege to say this, but the original would have been much more successful and even won the Tony with younger, name actresses. The two old broads making a valiant effort just couldn’t cut it anymore.

by Anonymousreply 1404/12/2019

Well, it was no Follies...

by Anonymousreply 1504/12/2019

These two guys are adorable. It's not good, but who cares?

by Anonymousreply 1604/12/2019

I saw the original production and didn't really care who was a star at that point. I really remember Jerry Orbach who seemed so tall, relaxed and with a voice like butter. I thought he was really sexy in an older guy sort of way. I knew Gwen and Chita were big names, but they had both hit middle age by that point. Gwen had started that shaky, breathy voice thing that she ended up with. Chita was kind of raspy. This might have been towards the end of the run, not sure, but I though they kinda seemed burned out a bit. I didn't think it was going to be the huge, everlasting hit that it was ~ but, who knew. When I saw the London 1997 revival, I was more impressed with it simply because the leads were younger and more versatile. But, I still have never figured out why it was the hit it became. Probably, cause I saw Patti in Evita and the first Cats in London.

by Anonymousreply 1704/12/2019

R10 here. Anastasia?!? HUH! I admit to seeing some family-oriented shows, but they are far from my favorite. "The Day Room" by Dom DeLillo is probably my favorite play, and I thought the recent London production of "Company" was absolutely brilliant.

by Anonymousreply 1804/12/2019

original was darker, funkier had a bit of a seventies hippie vibe in the set and costumes. More like Pippin. It was wonderful. The newer version was great too.

Any Fosse nuts on here remember - there was a card game in the original which had girls cheating pulling cards out of here wigs, bras and the last one out of her snatch.

by Anonymousreply 1904/12/2019

R19 --- Ha!! Love that. Was that in a particular number or in a book scene?

Does anyone know if Gwen saw the revival and what her thoughts on it were? She maintained a good relationship with Reinking, right? I heard her praising Reinking in a recently re-aired 1993 interview with Fresh Air's Terri Gross.

by Anonymousreply 2004/13/2019


As if there hasn’t always been injustice.

by Anonymousreply 2104/13/2019

Odd to think that the '20s were just as far away from the time that show opened as the opening is to now.

by Anonymousreply 2204/13/2019

Funny how Gwen says the youngest person in the audeince is 45.

by Anonymousreply 2304/13/2019

It was the first Broadway show that I ever saw. I was twelve years old. Went with my mother and an older brother to a Saturday matinee. Can still recall being thrilled by it all.

by Anonymousreply 2404/13/2019

[quote] Man, it must have been thrilling to see Chita and Gwen together.

People were creaming their tuxedos in the aisles! The theater was filled with orgasmic screams from the audience punctuating "Nowadays" and "I Can't Do It Alone"!

by Anonymousreply 2504/13/2019

r23 - she was referring to the typical matinee audience.

r22 - god, that just... doesn't compute.

by Anonymousreply 2604/13/2019

Here's Chita and Bebe in 1997

by Anonymousreply 2704/13/2019

I love Bebe in this.

by Anonymousreply 2804/13/2019

I saw it and loved it, but the original production of A Chorus Line was overwhelming. Chicago didn’t stand a chance next to it.

by Anonymousreply 2904/13/2019

I loved the original Chicago. I loved the color. Saw it first when Liza was filling in for Gwen. Went back to see it later with Gwen, and she was by far the better actress.

by Anonymousreply 3004/13/2019

Without the benefit of the internet back then, were many audience members genuinely surprised to find out Liza was subbing, R30??

by Anonymousreply 3104/14/2019

Oh please the Rialto had its version of smoke signals to pass along news and gossip in the 70s which was actually faster than today’s internet.

by Anonymousreply 3204/14/2019

I saw the original and I too saw Liza fill in- if everyone queen who claims to have seen her actually saw her the theatre would have to seat 10K …but what I remember well was the house announcement - "Ladies and Gentlemen, the role usually played by Gwen Verdon will be played tonight by……….looooong pause………..Liza Minnelli……cue audience screams…..never heard anything like it until opening night of the last CC Dolly revival in the 90's when Carol made her HG down that staircase….grown men standing on their seats screaming…..

by Anonymousreply 3304/14/2019

That's so cool, R33!

This was nice to see...

by Anonymousreply 3404/14/2019

[quote]"Ladies and Gentlemen, the role usually played by Gwen Verdon will be played tonight by……….looooong pause………..Liza Minnelli……cue audience screams…..

They screamed during Victor/Victoria, but for different reasons.

by Anonymousreply 3504/14/2019

Thanks R34. I really enjoyed that! Every little movement has a meaning of its own...

by Anonymousreply 3604/14/2019

I saw the original with Verdon, Rivera and Orbach. I don't remember much about it (except Orbach's "All I Care About is Love" which was great), but years later I saw the revival and as much as I loved the music (the score is excellent) I really did not care for it - the coarseness is so overdone.

Then a friend was performing Roxie in a production that went back to the original staging and the show worked so well. It's important to remember that the original script included the subtitle, "a musical vaudeville". That's what made the original so clever - the numbers payed like different musical numbers from an old time show. The new staging is just dark and black, Billy Flynn is now a tuxedoed lawyer - in the original, Flynn is an ambulance chaser, gruff and running the con in a very different way.

by Anonymousreply 3704/14/2019

Interesting. I do think the decision to keep that sleek, black, minimalist look for the revival was perhaps a key part of its longevity. It gave the production a sense of timelessness -- or, perhaps, of just existing in the theatrical imagination and put the words, music and choreography center stage. And, of course, the Weisslers leveraged the sexiness of that look to great effect in their numerous ad campaigns for Chicago. I could be wrong, but if they'd gone for traditional period costume or the cartoony rag doll look of the original production, the show might not have achieved its instant cool factor in the 90s/early 2000s that helped solidify its monster success.

by Anonymousreply 3804/14/2019

Did the film go back to that vaudeville concept? It's been a while since I saw it, but I remember all the numbers being performed like they were vaudeville skits. It seemed to work well.

by Anonymousreply 3904/14/2019

R39 - they were performed as figments of Roxie's imagination -- all happening in her head (or, in the case of All That Jazz -- a live performance she witnessed). It's why the wonderful 'Class' had to be cut as it didn't really make sense for Roxie to be imagining that sequence.

by Anonymousreply 4004/14/2019

R39, I think R40 is pretty much correct, a number of the songs were part of Roxie's imagination, but they were nightclub/vaudeville numbers.

Remember, at the end of the movie, Roxie and Velma cross paths at an audition and only then do they realize that no 'act' has two (how exciting two!) murderesses performing on the stage. So they succeed - becoming famous and performing in vaudeville.

If you can listen to the OBC and the Weissler's revival with Reinking and Neuwirth, do it - you'll hear the difference in approach.

by Anonymousreply 4104/15/2019

Dylis Croman and Terra C. MaCleod were spectacular in the most recent touring company. They brought the sex, wonderful dancing, great characterization and delusional insanity to the play.

by Anonymousreply 4204/16/2019

In that Chita Rivera clip, they sing, "Her mother's blood'd curdle/If she hears her baby's QUEER for all that jazz."

I always heard the lyric as "if she hears her baby SQUEAL for all that jazz."

The first one rhymes better ... but perhaps they changed it in other productions?

Musical theater experts, care to weigh in?

by Anonymousreply 4304/16/2019

Aging millennial, Chicago was a flop compared to a chorus line. Have a gen Z, Telegraph a wiki link to you

by Anonymousreply 4404/16/2019

It's always been queer, why wouldn't it be? Still is in the fantastic touring company. Maybe it will come to your village R43?

by Anonymousreply 4504/16/2019

One of my favorite Broadway productions ever. Asked my folks for tickets when it was announced -- to see Gwen Verdon, who hadn't been on Broadway for almost 10 years plus Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach, was considered a big event. Yes, it didn't have the overall acclaims and press of "A Chorus Line" once that juggernaut started, but "Chicago' had great performances, that wonderful Bob Fosse vaudeville staging of the musical numbers, a great score and while it was very cynical and satirical, it was all so very memorable to a young kid. I enjoyed the revival as well; it turned out to be a bit ahead of its time and was especially on target that the more things change, the more they stay the same in "Nowadays".

by Anonymousreply 4604/16/2019

I am trying to imagine a production of Chicago that would change "queer" to "squeal."

Would that have been the ONLY change?

by Anonymousreply 4704/17/2019
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