Chicago Celebrates 20 Years on Broadway

Chicago Celebrates 20 Years on Broadway

"Chicago: The Musical" (©Jeremy Daniel)

This month marks the 20th Anniversary of “Chicago: The Musical”—the smash Broadway hit about merry murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart who, from behind bars, scheme about how to extend their 15 minutes of fame.

As the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, “Chicago” continues to wow audiences with its iconic songs from John Kander and Fred Ebb, stunning choreography and all that jazz!

When this revival opened in 1996, it and quickly set itself apart from the original 1975 Broadway production and became its own entity. Met with critical acclaim for its stripped down production that pulled focus to the performers, “Chicago” went on to be nominated for eight Tony Awards, winning six including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Choreography. So far, Bebe Neuwirth, winner of Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Velma Kelly, is the only performer who has played the three female leads in the show—Velma Kelly, Roxie Hart and Matron “Mama” Morton—over the course of its run.

Over the past 20 years, some huge stars of stage, screen and song have made memorable additions to the always-amazing cast. When I saw “Chicago” for the first time last year, country music superstar Jennifer Nettles was making her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart. Other notable contributions were made by Michael C. Hall, Adam Pascal, Patrick Swayze, User, Melanie Griffith, Christie Brinkley, Brooke Shields, Tony Yazbeck, Chandra Wilson and many, many more. 

The present cast recently welcomed Paul Alexander Nolan as Billy Flynn, the showman lawyer who manipulates the masses to turn his infamous clients into media darlings. Nolan recently appeared in the Tony nominated Broadway musical “Bright Star” and the Off-Broadway hit “Daddy Long Legs.” Also in the cast (through November 26) is Disney Channel “K.C. Undercover” star, Veronica Dunne in her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart. It was just announced yesterday that Mel B. ("Scary Spice" from the Spice Girls) will join the cast on December 28, 2016 for eight weeks of performances.

In addition to the continued success of “Chicago” on Broadway, the show is presently on tour in the United Kingdom through the end of 2016 and will tour the U.S. in 2017. A West End revival ran for almost 15 years and there have been several prior tours and international productions. “Chicago” may be named after—and set in—an American city, but it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

My favorite thing about “Chicago” is the music numbers. I saw the Academy Award-winning film adaptation four times in theaters, immediately bought the DVD when it was released and listened to the soundtrack nonstop. When I finally saw the stage show, I was blown away by how high-energy and exciting this show really is. It’s one thing to see this musical on a screen… but seeing it in person is downright magical! This is one of those “run, don’t walk, to the Ambassador and see this show” situations because “Chicago” is a musical theater experience you’ll never forget.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Chicago: The Musical” for 20 fabulous years of being on Broadway. And here’s to many, many more!

“Chicago: The Musical” continues its run at the Ambassador Theatre (219 W. 49th St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave.). Get your tickets here.

Cast of "Chicago: The Musical" (©Jeremy Daniel)

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