What's On: Chicago (Savoyards Musical Comedy Society Inc)

Joanna Nash as Velma Kelly, Joshua Moore as Billy Flynn, and Heidi Enchelmaier as Roxie Hart. Photographed by Chris Thomas.

Where
? Iona Performing Arts Centre, Lindum.
When? September 29 - October 13

Savoyards, Brisbane’s oldest continuously running musical theatre company, is bringing a new production of CHICAGO to the stage this September and October. Directed by Sherryl-Lee Secomb with musical direction by Benjamin Tubb-Hearne and choreography by Desney Toia-Sinapati, this production will feature a cast of 43 talented local performers and a live orchestra, performing well-known Broadway favourites including “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle”.

Heidi Enchelmaier as Roxie Hart. Photographed by Chris Thomas

In the roaring twenties, Chicago, Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap... until he finds out he's been dumped and turns on Roxie. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie and another "Merry Murderess" Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the "American Dream": fame, fortune, and acquittal.  A multiple award-winning show, Chicago has thrilled audiences in numerous productions around the world with its sharp-edged satire, and the dazzling score that sparked immortal staging by Bob Fosse.  

Joshua Moore as Billy Flynn. Photographed by Chris Thomas

“It’s been years since the amateur performance rights for CHICAGO have been available,” explains choreographer Desney Toia-Sinapati. “We auditioned over 80 amazing Brisbane dancers, not to mention the many talented singers and actors who graced the audition space. The final cast blends Brisbane community theatre performers, alongside actors with many professional performance credits. Add to this a high quality live orchestra, we are able to provide an amazing experience for our performers and a simply stunning experience for our audiences.”

Joanna Nash as Velma Kelly. Photographed by Chris Thomas

For ticketing and further information, visit the Savoyards website. Tickets range from $28 - $50 and are available now.

More about the show…
The popular musical is based on a play of the same name by reporter and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune. In the early 1920s, Chicago's press and public became riveted by the subject of homicides committed by women, generally involving the killing of their lovers or husbands. These cases were tried against a backdrop of changing views of women in the Jazz age, and a long string of acquittals by Cook County juries of women murderesses led to a lore that a feminine or attractive woman could not be convicted (the penalty generally being death by hanging) and press coverage of several of these women as celebrities. 

Watkins' sensational columns documenting these trials proved so popular that she decided to write a play based on them. The show received both popular and critical acclaim and even made it to Broadway in 1926, running for 172 performances. In the 1960’s, Gwen Verdon and her husband Bob Fosse approached Watkins to buy the rights for a musical adaptation. Despite her numerous refusals, upon her death in 1969 her estate sold the rights to producer Richard Fryer, Verdon, and Fosse.

John Kander and Fred Ebb (who also wrote the musical “Cabaret”) modelled each number on a traditional vaudeville number or a vaudeville performer, making explicit the show's comparison between "justice", "show-business", and contemporary society. Ebb and Fosse penned the book of the musical, and Fosse also directed and choreographed.

Chicago opened in 1975 in New York at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for a total of 936 performances. The original Australian production opened at the Sydney Opera House's Drama Theatre in June 1981, a new production for the Sydney Theatre Company rather than a replica of the Broadway production.