The very beginning of May 1996 was the time Broadway history began to be made. Of course, back then, no one knew what a true phenonemon Chicago: The Musical would become. At the time, fans of the show were just thrilled at the chance to finally see a professional production of a show many only knew from its original cast recording. A critical success, the Encores! production was immediately rumored for a transfer to Broadway.
Before that May was over, Barry and Fran Weissler had secured the rights to bring the concert version to the big time in a more finished version - that is, without scripts as in Encores!, and full staging. Finished, finessed, but not substantially different. The bare bones staging by Walter Bobby, sexy costumes by William Ivey Long, fresh revamped book by David Thompson, and choreography "in the style of Bob Fosse" by Fosse protege Ann Reinking woule remain essentially intact.
Fast forward to tonight, August 29, 2011. Tonight, Chicago: The Musical will play its 6,138th performance, and that will make it the 4th longest-running show in Broadway history, behind Les Miserables, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. It is now the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. (For some time, it has been Broadway's longest-running revival in history.) With no signs of stopping, Chicago: The Musical will surpass Les Miserables to become the third longest-running show in just over a year.
3 Theatres, 1 Legendary Show
Chicago: The Musical Statistics:
- Theatre: Richard Rodgers Theatre (November 14, 1996 - February 9, 1997)
- Previews: October 23, 1996 (25 previews)
- Opening: November 14, 1996
- Theatre: Shubert Theatre (February 11, 1997 - January 26, 2003)
- Theatre: Ambassador Theatre (January 29, 2003 - present)
1997 Tony Awards
- Best Revival of a Musical (Won)
- Best Leading Actor in a Musical - James Naughton (Won)
- Best Leading Actress in a Musical - Bebe Neuwirth (Won)
- Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Marcia Lewis (Nominee)
- Best Direction of a Musical - Walter Bobbie (Won)
- Best Choreography - Ann Reinking (Won)
- Best Lighting Design - Ken Billington (Won)
- Best Costume Design - William Ivey Long (Nominee)
Opening Night Cast:
- Roxie Hart: Ann Reinking
- Velma Kelly: Bebe Neuwirth
- Billy Flynn: James Naughton
- Amos Hart: Joel Grey
- Matron "Mama" Morton: Marcia Lewis
- Mary Sunshine: D. Sabella
- Fred Casely: Michael Berresse
- Go-to-Hell Kitty: Leigh Zimmerman
- The Merry Mureresses: Caitlin Carter, Mamie Duncan-Gibbs, Denise Faye, Mary An Lamb, Tina Paul
- Ensemble: Jim Borstelman, Bruce Anthony Davis, Micahel Kubala, John Mineo, Rocker Verastique, Davis Warren-Gibson
- Stand-by for Roxie and Velma: Nancy Hess
- Swings: Mindy Cooper, Luis Perez
Roxie Hart over the years...
The Originals: Bebe as Velma and Ann as Roxie
Bebe played Roxie, too...
Charlotte d'Amboise has plyed the role A LOT
Melanie Griffith and Bianca Maroquin both rocked Chicago
Melanie Griffith and Robin Givens
Bonnie Langford and Paige Davis
Brooke Shields and Michelle Williams
Micelle Williams, Lisa Rinna
Ashlee Simpson, Christie Brinkley
Rita Wilson (with Brenda Braxton)
Marilu Henner, Rita Wilson, Michelle Dejean
(with Michael C. Hall as Billy Flynn)
Velma Kelly over the years...
Frequent Velma Terra C. McLeod
Broadway and London Velma
Ruthie Henshall played both
Roxie and Velma on both
Broadway and the West End
Charloltte d'Amboise as Roxie with 2 Velmas:
(TOP) Leigh Zimmerman
(BOTTOM) Nikka Graff Lanzarone
Current Velma Nikka Graff Lanzarone
Mya and the Boys
Billy Flynn over the years...
Joey Lawrence, Usher, Huey Lewis
Jerry Springer played both New York and the West End
John O'Hurley is a frequent and loved Billy Flynn
The Backstreet Boys' Kevin Richardson
The late Patrick Swayze
And BOTH of the Dukes of Hazzard have taken their turn
as Billy Flynn: John Schneider and Tom Wopat
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