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 Anonymous||reply 47||04/17/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 1||04/10/2019|
I liked the revival better than the original. But, Gwen was better than anyone in revival cast.
|by Anonymous||reply 2||04/10/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 3||04/11/2019|
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.
|by Anonymous||reply 4||04/12/2019|
R4 - that interview was fabulous. Thanks for sharing!
|by Anonymous||reply 5||04/12/2019|
Thanks for this thread. I love it.
|by Anonymous||reply 6||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 7||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 8||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 9||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 10||04/12/2019|
I’ve only ever seen the movie but I loved it.
|by Anonymous||reply 11||04/12/2019|
R10, why do I get the impression you've stage doored Anastasia?
|by Anonymous||reply 12||04/12/2019|
I bet R10 really hates Gypsy.
|by Anonymous||reply 13||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 14||04/12/2019|
Well, it was no Follies...
|by Anonymous||reply 15||04/12/2019|
These two guys are adorable. It's not good, but who cares?
|by Anonymous||reply 16||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 17||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 18||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 19||04/12/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 20||04/13/2019|
As if there hasn’t always been injustice.
|by Anonymous||reply 21||04/13/2019|
Odd to think that the '20s were just as far away from the time that show opened as the opening is to now.
|by Anonymous||reply 22||04/13/2019|
Funny how Gwen says the youngest person in the audeince is 45.
|by Anonymous||reply 23||04/13/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 24||04/13/2019|
[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 Anonymous||reply 25||04/13/2019|
r23 - she was referring to the typical matinee audience.
r22 - god, that just... doesn't compute.
|by Anonymous||reply 26||04/13/2019|
Here's Chita and Bebe in 1997
|by Anonymous||reply 27||04/13/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 29||04/13/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 30||04/13/2019|
Without the benefit of the internet back then, were many audience members genuinely surprised to find out Liza was subbing, R30??
|by Anonymous||reply 31||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 32||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 33||04/14/2019|
[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 Anonymous||reply 35||04/14/2019|
Thanks R34. I really enjoyed that! Every little movement has a meaning of its own...
|by Anonymous||reply 36||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 37||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 38||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 39||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 40||04/14/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 41||04/15/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 42||04/16/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 43||04/16/2019|
Aging millennial, Chicago was a flop compared to a chorus line. Have a gen Z, Telegraph a wiki link to you
|by Anonymous||reply 44||04/16/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 45||04/16/2019|
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 Anonymous||reply 46||04/16/2019|
I am trying to imagine a production of Chicago that would change "queer" to "squeal."
Would that have been the ONLY change?
|by Anonymous||reply 47||04/17/2019|