“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery: all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.” The opening lines to “Chicago” say it all.
“Chicago,” as the quote reads, is about everything we hold near to us, especially murder, sin and greed. It is all about the show business of politics and anything that is seen on the front page of a newspaper.
The 1996 Broadway hit “Chicago” is based on actual murders in history. Roxie Hart, played by Bianca Marroquin, is based on Beulah Annan who was a murderess in the 20s. Annan killed her lover after he threatened to leave her but told her husband that she killed him because he tried to take advantage of her. She later admitted that they had been fooling around for months, but when it came time for the trial she claimed they both reached for the gun and she killed him in self-defense.
The play focuses on Roxie Hart, a vaudevillian wanna-be, who murders her lover because he does not come through with the gig of her dreams only to be ratted out by her husband, Amos, played by Ray Bokhour.
Roxie is a woman obsessed with being on stage and she lives for being in the spotlight. Equally hungry for celebrity, Velma Kelly, played by Brenda Brazton, is a vaudeville star that killed her husband and sister after finding out they were having an affair and is striving to get out of jail as soon as possible and maintain her stardom. Jail life for Roxie, Velma and the rest of the “merry murderesses” becomes a competition for fame.
Murder was a form of entertainment in the roaring 20s and “Chicago” certainly shows it.
Musical numbers such as the “Cell Block Tango” performed by the women on murderess row and “Razzle Dazzle” performed by lawyer Billy Flynn, played by Gregory Harrison, display polished testimonies suitable for the press and the public.
There are many twists in the trials of Roxie and Velma and the musical culminates in a surprising ending.
Six Tony Awards and six Oscars after its birth on Broadway, “Chicago” is on a North American tour coming to the Merriam Theater from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 after a week of shows in Wallingford, CT.
Tickets range from $35 to $67.50, but the Merriam Theater offers a student rush during the week of the show. Students with proper I.D. can show up a few hours before the show and purchase one ticket at a 15 percent discount.
The Merriam Theater expects a large reception. The weekend matinees are sold out, however, there are still seats available for evening performances.
The show starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Curtain calls are 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Jillian Swanson can be reached at email@example.com.