WORLD PREMIERE: Dallas Symphony Orchestra – October 4, 5, 6, 2019
When one thinks of the musical Chicago, a few associations instantly come to mind—the iconic opening vamp of “All That Jazz,” a seductively subtle thrust of the hip or simply a couple of finger snaps.
But behind all of these instantly recognizable images and sounds is a surprising history—in fact, the story of Roxie, Velma, Amos, Billy, and the Merry Murderesses of the Cook County Jail has been part of America’s collective cultural consciousness for nearly a century.
The story begins with—what else—murder. Or, rather, alleged murder. The unrelated murder trials of Beulah Annan and cabaret singer Belva Gaertner riveted the world of 1924 Chicago. The immense popularity of columns in the Chicago Tribune and the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the trials prompted Watkins to write a satirical play inspired by these true events. Beulah and Belva became Roxie and Velma, and the rest is history.
Chicago, with its brilliant score and its ever-relevant story, has conquered Broadway, Hollywood, and the international stage. Now, composer John Kander has given us still another exciting chapter to add to this impressive history, providing the inspiration to revisit the score in a new medium—the symphony orchestra. Orchestrator Bill Elliott’s reimagined and deconstructed soundscape is full of surprises, providing a fresh perspective for approaching the music while still bolstering everything you know and love about the “Cell Block Tango,” “Mr. Cellophane,” “Nowadays,” and the rest of the dynamic score. Whether it is your first exposure or you are a long-time fan, this Chicago experience will have a special Razzle Dazzle for you quite unlike any other.
To make the alignment of talents even more serendipitous, this project has been spearheaded by none other than Rob Fisher, the same legendary conductor responsible for making the Encores production (and the Broadway revival it generated) possible in the first place. But you just can’t do it alone. Mr. Fisher, Mr. Kander, Mr. Elliott, and librettist Tom Thompson, have poured their passion for Chicago into creating this unique concert experience together.
“In fifty years or so, it’s gonna change you know,” Roxie and Velma sing with a bittersweet laugh. And yet, 95 years after the trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, some things have not changed at all—toxic celebrity worship is still en vogue, the justice system is still eminently corruptible, and, of course, people still have a boundless capacity to con and be conned. In other words, it is no surprise that this electrifying tale of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery is still very much near and dear to our hearts.