The Journey So Far

A chronological stroll thru the history of Broadway Musicals as they came to be recorded by Hollywood--the summation of a lifelong vocation, and a journey of self discovery. Equal parts cultural history, critique and personal memoir. Coming next: Beauty & the Beast

Saturday, December 17, 2016


December 10, 2002,  Miramax   113 minutes
During the five years I lived in NY, there was no Opening Night I was more keen to attend than the one to Chicago. First announced in the summer of '74, the show was delayed by Fosse's untimely heart attack, and not back on track until June of '75. But unlike other must-sees I nabbed tix to, there were no Opening Night duckets available at the box office, which only fueled my determination. I wrote to Gwen Verdon (in c/o the theater) to plead my case as her most passionate fan. She was in fact my favorite Bway star--a position unchanged after I received a sweet hand-written note back, excusing herself from any pull at the box office--but wishing me luck. On the Night-Of I arrived hours early to pounce on any possible cancellation. As was kismet, my diligence panned out and I scored an orchestra seat on the far right side, but only ten rows from the stage. From the very stage that 20 years earlier Verdon set afire as Lola in Damn Yankees, followed by her Anna Christie in New Girl in Town and Essie Whimple in Redhead--all of them earning her Tonys; all of them staged by Bob Fosse. Indeed the 46th St. Theater could as easily have been renamed the Verdon, or the Fosse instead of the Richard Rodgers (who aside from Do I Hear a Waltz had only one show ever play this house: a short-lived revival of On Your Toes in 1954). There is something special about Bway theaters, tho they grow everymore cramped and uncomfortable over the years. But they are truly temples of mirth and divinity; and within their hallowed walls lingers some kind of cosmic residue from the great shows and performers who imbued the space with their unique talents. By that token I feel a thrill whenever I enter the St. James, the Majestic, the Shubert or the Winter Garden. But my heart shall always belong first to the 46th St. where happy ghosts from Finian's Rainbow, Guys & Dolls, I Do! I Do! How to Succeed in Business, waft in the rafters.  Aside from Chicago, here's where I saw 1776 on a 
4th of July, No No Nanette four times; Nine, twice, opening night of Raisin, the great late Tammy Grimes in Private Lives; Seussical; In the Heights and the first month of the revived-by-Encores! Chicago, before it moved to smaller houses. And now it houses, no--enshrines, Hamilton.

So there I was in my orchestra seat as the curtain rose, the horn wailed and Chita Rivera rose up thru the floor to start "All That Jazz"--surrounded by Fosse's most stylized, least dressed corps of dancers. The audience went wild--I was living the dream.  If Gwen Verdon was my favorite Bway star, Chita Rivera was a close second, and having a double-header for my first live exposure to both was beyond reasonable expectation. (I fell for them thru records, mind you--ladies known for their dancing!)   On top of that  there was Jerry Orbach,  who'd forever earned
my affection from Promises, Promises, oozing charm in a sleazy role. The show was so top-loaded I had little need to care for either Barney Martin or Mary McCarty--in another late career peak, following her Stella Deems in Follies, leading the ensemble in "Who's That Woman?" And should there be a moment of boredom there was always one or another of the lithe and eroticized dancers, male or female, to catch the eye. And perhaps most importantly it was Kander & Ebb at the top of their form, with melodies so engaging I couldn't wait to get the OCR on my turntable.

This was also the summer A Chorus Line roared onto Bway from downtown, stealing most of the thunder (and a year later, the Tonys). And as much enthralled as I was with that show, too, I argued with my friends with unfounded certainty that ultimately Chicago would prove to have the more lasting score. The show was a soft hit (Gwen never had a musical flop) but it was far overshadowed by Michael Bennett's phenomenon, tho there was a publicity boost when Verdon had to exit for an injury, and was replaced for five weeks (just as Chorus Line was opening at the Shubert) by Liza Minnelli--starting a stampede for tickets. Verdon returned and stayed with the show until Ann Reinking took over for the final six months. A road company toured with obscure leads until Gwen & Chita stepped into it 7 months later during the obligatory Civic Light Opera weeks in LA & SF--where I saw the golden duo for a 4th and final time. Oh, yes, I had also seen it with Liza, who'd subbed on such short notice she was still a bit wobbly with the lines, but oh was she game--and yes she was an able Fosse dancer at the time. Despite all that, the show settled into semi-obscurity until 20 years later when Encores! staged a stripped-down version that so electrified its audience it was quickly transferred to Bway--where it's now run over 20 years--the longest running American musical in Bway history.

It was Gwen Verdon who first saw a musical in the 1942 Ginger Rogers movie, Roxie Hart; which in turn was a cleaned up, softened version of a play by Maurine Watkins--spun from her own reporting on two "Jazz-killer" trials in the Second City--a Bway hit in 1927 as Chicago. Watkins herself is quite worthy of fable; an Indiana girl gone Radcliffe, who impulsively decided to become a reporter and wound up interviewing a bounty of convicted murderers, including Leopold & Loeb. Just as abruptly she quit the trade, fearing she was enjoying it too much. While at Yale Drama School, she wrote Chicago and sold it to Sam Harris to produce--all by the age of 26.
Verdon wanted Fosse to make the show for her since the late '50s. But when it finally came together Gwen was hitting 50, and as she'd struggled thru the run of Sweet Charity with many weeks out due to illness or injury, she requested Velma (originally a supporting role) be expanded to an equal share of the bill, thus inviting Chita Rivera to divide the burden--the other Golden Age Star Dancer. At 42, Chita was no spring-chicken either, but she would astound us all by continuing to star in Bway musicals well into her 70s--and even continue dancing after a taxi accident left her nearly crippled in 1986. Astonishingly, this was only her second Tony nomination (after Bye Bye Birdie), tho she'd eventually earn a record 10 noms (shared by Julie Harris)  --her two wins still years ahead. Verdon was Tony nominated for every one of her six musicals, and won the first four. It would be hard to choose between ladies in Chicago, which in part was why it was easy to crown Donna McKechnie the winner for A Chorus Line the next June--tho hers was far less a starring role. But then Chicago lost all 11 of its Tony nominations to Chorus Line. The '96 revival won six, including those for Bebe Neuwirth (as Velma), Joel Grey (as Amos) and Ann Reinking (not for Roxie, but for retracing Fosse's steps, thru her own lens.)

Billed "a musical vaudeville," the show is as much a pastiche as Follies, but one in which the songs move the plot--some are the plot. Yet they play like specialties, as indeed they are, modeled on such 1920s headliners as Helen Morgan, Ted Lewis, Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor, Bert Williams; who over time are less & less familiar or even relevant to audiences. Nowadays do even 5% know the correlations to performers past, much less care? This was one obstacle to realizing a screen version, another was the belabored complaint that millennial audiences had problems with characters bursting into song. Bill Condon's screenplay circumvented these issues by having the numbers arise thru Roxie's delusional show-biz fantasies. This establishes a pattern but doesn't always conform. Would she really imagine a full-out Fosse ensemble like "Cell Block Tango"?--one without a historical reference point (unless it's Sweet Charity's "Big Spender"). No matter, the device works. But it isn't the stagey presentation of the songs that's changed, but the underlining narrative--done as vaudeville sketches onstage--depicts a contrasting grim reality on film. Musical numbers weave in & out thru the arrest, incarceration and trial of Roxie, but in depicting the harsh actuality beyond them--something entirely missing in the original musical--helps make the conceit work even better. Of course it doesn't hurt that the songs are good. Among the Best-of-Kander & Ebb-good. So from the start Hlwd was eyeing the property. Fosse was the natural first choice to direct but he preferred to move on to All That Jazz (a not so subtle snub to Chicago in its very title), which left the project somewhat unmoored. Still, rumored casting floated around for years: Liza Minnelli & Goldie Hawn; Cher & Bette Midler; Ellen Greene & Michelle Pfeiffer. But musicals were evermore scarce in Hlwd, and as the '90s rolled on Chicago was fading into the past. That is until City Center's Encores! brought it roaring back to life in '96--setting off an avalanche of international productions, national tours and a sit-down Vegas version.  The original
Fosse production was deemed too cynical by many--too cold to be enjoyable; a factor cited in its limited exposure. Aside from two years on Bway there was a national tour and a West End edition, but only one major international production in, of all places, Buenos Aires--and before even London. (Presumbaly Argentinos were more inclined to be cynical of society). Many cited the OJ Simpson trial as a turning point in American mores, which in turn gave new relevance to Chicago--as well as accrued theatrical value. And so a quarter century later at the instigation of Zadan & Meron, the Weinstein Bros. and Bway producer Marty Richards, the movie was finally a go. The screenplay was awarded to Bill Condon as a follow up to his Oscar-winning tinsel-town gargoyle, Gods & Monsters; and for director: Rob Marshall, whose film credits include Zadan & Meron's TV updates of Annie and the multi-racial Cinderella. Wise choices that trusted & preserved the show's inherent value, without trying to reinvent the film musical; in other words: without apology.

Casting at the turn-of-the-millennium was a whole new ballgame, and few of the choices were obvious. But was there anyone left that was obvious? Madonna, perhaps, for Velma--you'd think she'd have lobbied for it. Rene Zellweger was a fresh young thing come up thru Jerry Maguire, Nurse Betty and Bridget Jones' Diary--at the peak of her Hlwd ripeness, and Roxie Hart was a surprisingly good match for her ferocious innocence & sexy twinkle. With her weepy resting-face and period bob, Renee finds all the right buttons for Roxie, from killer to victim--with just the right amount of musical ability to put her songs over without showing any major talent. It's a tightrope she walks quite well. Catherine Zeta-Jones may check all the boxes for Velma, but I can't ever seem to get it up for her. Like many West End musical stars (Elaine Paige, Ruthie Henshall) Zeta-Jones lacks a certain fizz that makes a star a Star--something more cultivated if not demanded on the Great White Way. Well, at least that's been my opinion. She doesn't do anything wrong here, really (discounting her awful line readings of the Cicero story in "Cell Block Tango") but she just doesn't electrify in a role that Chita--and even Bebe Neuwirth did. So naturally she's the single cast member to win an Oscar. I've no objection to Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, tho he's at best an adequate song & dance man.   Queen Latifah  is much  better,  tho we must 
look blind to color, for surely no black woman ran a Cook County prison in the '20s. But she's fine in voice & figure channeling Pearl Bailey playing the Palace. (But I just flashed on what Cass Eliot might have once done with the part!) And in John C. Reilly a perfect Amos is captured, a dullard and doofus, but interesting enuf an actor to make us almost care. Christine Baranski who seems to pop up everywhere, takes on Mary Sunshine--a gossip columnist played on stage by a man in drag. Dominic West, not yet well known plays Roxie's victim, Fred Casely;  Colm Feore, a  prosecutor, and Lucy Liu, an 
unlikely high society murderess who steals everyone's thunder at the climax of Roxie's trial. Taye Diggs tickles the ivories as a sort of silent emcee, doing little more than looking dapper in nightclub blue light. And Chita Rivera shows up--in a holding cell--for literally five seconds in her most hardboiled look & manner.

Opening on Roxie's eyes (to plant the conceit from the start) the pic uses the jazzy Bway overture over shots establishing Velma's late arrival to her club gig, having just killed her husband & sister--with whom she shared an act--tho her subsequent "All That Jazz" perf betrays no sign  of  being  a  joint  venture.   She  sings  her  guts  out 
knowing the cops are afoot for her encore. Roxie is tied into this opening as well, having been brought here by Fred Casely, falsely promising her an audition--and establishing Roxie's dreams of vaudeville stardom. But where Fosse & Ebb's skeletal libretto had Roxie simply shoot Fred as part of the show's opening, Condon fills in the details: giving us the scene of betrayal that drives Roxie to murder--the following shock allowing "Funny Honey" to emerge as a torch song in her imagination--while the cops interrogate hapless husband, Amos. The illusion crumbles and she's off to jail where she imagines Matron Morton in the mold of Sophie Tucker before she even meets her. By now it's obvious the film is built on carefully crafted transitions between truth & illusion, placing greater emphasis on editing than usual. The aforementioned "Cell Block Tango" comes in pieces over clips of inmates sharing their murder stories; the number itself more Fosse than vaudeville, highlighted by the peerless theatrical lighting of Bway legends Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer--and filmed with a ferocity--and manipulation of film speed--that makes it fairly crackle on screen. This and the ventrioloquist-act, "We Both Reached For the Gun," are the numbers most heightened on screen--again in no small measure because of lighting. Whether  intentional  or  not,   there's  no   mistaking  the 
On-top-of-the-World "Roxie" number as another nod to Monroe and those forever giving "Diamonds." It even has a bevy of mature backup boys--and when was the last time we saw that? It's a wholly fabulous number, and for once done not as a vaudeville specialty but as a soundstage-size Hlwd studio product. (A bit of a cheat for the '20s) Apparently "Class" was a cheat too far, for tho it was filmed--in two ways--it never felt right in the final cut --but you can judge for yourself, with its inevitable emergence as a bonus track. It's hard to think of quality musical scores that have their best songs at the end, but my favorite Chicago songs have always been the latter ones. "Razzle Dazzle" does what it stands for, and the circus motif is carried to Cirque de Soleil lengths--oddly drenched in a purple haze. Musically this would be my prime choice as well, were it not for "Nowadays" an irresistible confection of a song (that in Gwen & Chita's vocals delivered Bway greatness) which I had long imagined deserved the full Ziegfeldian stairway. But the film gets it right in a different way, starting with a sultry glam-croon with Roxie in shimmering black gown; then cut in mid-verse to a more tawdry audition--one that Roxie fails. Here Condon gives us one last scene, to tell us how Roxie teams up with Velma (adversaries on equal footing now);  something never  bothered  with in the stage show. Then"Nowadays" resumes in more legit form;
the done-up duo engulfed in oversize furs, soon discarded revealing diamond-beaded dresses, with a light wall dropping from above. Against this charge of vibrating electricity they dance the "Hot Honey Rag" rendering all comparisons or memories of Verdon & Rivera meaningless, by the sheer cinematic Rahadlakum released. (And here, again not to nit-pick, but Zeta-Jones--who must be the only actress Renee could ever be alphabetically billed above--and is the more experienced stage performer; pales next to the loose swagger of Zellweger. Renee looks like she's having fun. Catherine looks like she's working.)

Twenty-seven years in the making, Chicago--the movie--opened Dec. 10th in NY & LA--my 50th birthday, as it were. But I was in SF and wouldn't see it until Dec 29th--two days after its national release. The film caught fire with the critics and public, and rode its year-end surprise to numerous citations, culminating in a hefty 13 Oscar nominations, including the Big One; Rob Marshall for directing and Bill Condon's script. Renee was put in the main actress category, and Catherine split into the supporting field, which also included Queen Latifah (as well as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Kathy Bates). Richard Gere wasn't granted a nod, but John C. Reilly was. A half dozen technical categories yielded Oscars for Art Direction, Costumes, Film Editing and Sound. In a naked bid for gold, Kander & Ebb provided "I Move On" (supposedly a reject from the show) to play in the end credits. The Academy gave the Oscar instead to Eminem. There hadn't been a Bway musical movie in the Academy's top list since Cabaret--and no winning picture since Oliver! in 1968. It didn't seem like it would ever happen again. 2002 was a better than average year with some high profile competition including two epics: Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York and Roman Polanski's masterpiece of the Warsaw ghetto, The Pianist. Others in the running were the second installment of the not-yet-Oscared Lord of the Rings trilogy (and by consensus the least worthy of the three); and a starry, literary prestige item from Michael Cunningham's book The Hours. Also rans that year included Adaptation, Frida, Catch Me If You Can, About Schmidt, Far From Heaven, and Almodovar's Talk to Her--which won original screenplay. The year before, Baz Luhrmann's psychadelic Moulin Rouge was the first musical to get a Best Pic nomination since All That Jazz. Both films played fast & loose with interpolated music, exaggerated style and fancy editing. But Moulin Rouge--tho hailed as the second coming of the musical--was more flash than substance, visually overpowering--but so shredded into  snippets of film the eye can never take in the uber-Rococo spectacle with any satisfaction. Fortunately, Chicago didn't pick up the habit, and tho it's certainly cut with more briskness than the old MGM model, it is artfully & carefully edited--earning Martin Walsh a well-deserved Oscar. Like Cabaret 30 years prior, Chicago took an early defined lead in collecting statues, but lost script & direction to The Pianist--a victory against odds for Roman Polanski. The ultimate prize was in question until the final opening of the envelope. Understandably, Hlwd was more in the mood for a musical than another reminder of the world's horrors. And here was, at last, a musical that appealed to the masses without apologizing for its Bway mantle. A musical worthy of Oscar. The movie grossed $170 million domestically, for a $306 global total (21st century numbers are impossible to correlate with those of decades past--when Hlwd listed "rentals" deducting all payoffs for a more realistic studio profit figure. $300 million comes to a lot less when you pay out the theater chains, the advertising and other sundry costs.) Still there's no disputing Chicago was a smash hit--the highest grossing movie musical ever--for the moment. The gates once again open, Hlwd took a look at Bway with fresh eyes.

Bway itself was reawakening; moving from a Bronze Age (after the usual 28-30 year span--yes, the Saturn return cycle) into a brighter, more Silver Age, if you will, where the Bway musical rose above the narrow margins of popularity it fell to post-Golden Age; to a somewhat unapologetic acceptance, even some degree of cool. In large measure this was due to bringing back the comedy in Musical Comedy--something that became scarce in the wake of Sondheim and the Brits--undoubtedly a factor in the shrinking audience. But Bway was bouncing back at the Turn of the Century--something, I confess I never expected to see in my lifetime. Times Square had been transformed from its trashy & dangerous nadir in the '70s. The once low-rise theater district had been engulfed in canyons of skyscrapers; the TKTS booth in Duffy Square evolved into a stadium for gawkers; the neon homeland giving way to massive hi-def TV screens; traffic-clogged streets reduced to massive pedestrian malls; one big showgoer's Disneyland. Only unlike previous eras, musicals were now 90% of all shows on Bway. Whether driven by politics or history the Zeitgeist demanded it. As the Golden Age once bloomed in the anxious soil of horrific war, the new Silver Age took root in the Bush/Cheney coup de etat, and its resulting catastrophes, beginning with 9/11, which defines the true beginning of the 21st Century. The shockwaves Americans endured for years to come, required the musical to return as a public balm.

I hadn't any six degrees connection to 9/11 (tho my longtime friend Tim Witter passed under the Twin Towers in a cab mere minutes before the first plane hit--on way to Newark Airport), but weren't we all walking around like Zombies for some time afterwards? Bad enuf we had to endure the incompetence of Bush and the malevolence of Cheney, as we started down that long hell-hole, now a series of personal unfortunate events came my way which made these years the worst of my life. Three months after 9/11, my partner Greg (who was managing an office at a wellness clinic) was broadsided by a woman running a red light; car totaled, waking up in the ER. Remarkably he seemed to be fine, but over time certain complications emerged, leading to a seizure, and then in hospital the main event: a fall by their negligence that rendered him paralyzed for the next half year. After getting nowhere with Kaiser, Greg returned home to a newly setup hospital room, and thru our genius medical intuitive, Rhonda, slowly regained intelligence in his lower body and began to stand and barely walk. But that's another story...and a long one it is. The impact on me, was no picnic either. At first there was a rotating staff of nurses in the daytime (allowing me to go to work) and Greg's friends--tho they soon virtually all disappeared. My evenings had me playing cook, nurse, companion and morale booster; until he's tucked in to slumberland. It was like suddenly having a child--an infant at that, if you factor in the of changing diapers. My one sweet spot was the one or two late hours I had to myself, a puff of magic herb, and an escape into a musical album, or a movie--nothing was more soothing than a '40s Fox musical with Betty Grable, Alice Faye or Carmen Miranda, with glistening Technicolor backlot settings: Rio, Miami, Cuba, Canadian Rockies--fairly new to me (no compilation like MGM's That's Entertainment ever clued later generations to these forgotten goodies.) As much needed bon bons of escapism, I can well understand the popularity of such pulp during the Great War.

For obvious reasons I can date the end of my social life--modest as it was--to early 2002. But what became evident as Greg healed--ever so slowly--was that I so treasured the few hours I had stolen to pursue my own explorations & creative works, that no matter how much I regained, 'twas never enuf. The first project to suffer was my musical, When Stars Collide for which I had embarked on revising as well as writing new lyrics to be set to music by Billy Philadelphia (who was likewise consumed by life and in no hurry). We managed to get six songs done the whole year--a couple of which were soon discarded. I hadn't time for my art/collage work either. I was blessed in one regard, however: my job was stable, unassuming and flexible to any and all of my needs. Yet approaching my 50th birthday I hadn't the morale or the wherewithal to plan for any grand gesture (as I had on my 40th, writing and performing my own monologue, The Nikita Khruschev Songbook). As it happened, my Father would've ruined any planned event, as he took deathly ill on the day itself, and was rushed to hospital, forcing me to deal with my distraught and near hysterical mother--in depressing San Jose. I suppose I could count as a birthday gift my father's apology--from his hospital bed--for being a lousy father.  I took this to be indication of how close the end must be, rather than any heartfelt rapprochement. Mother on the other hand was refusing to even considerate his demise, going so far as to contradict Father's Do Not Resuscitate dictum, telling the staff to keep him alive at all cost.  For this he suffered another invasive operation (colon cancer this time) returning home within a week. But by Xmas he was back in hospital with a new round of issues. He spent the holidays in an overcrowded nursing home, and I was making the hour's journey from SF with dreaded regularity, the start of my hatred of driving--not to mention the physical anxiety attacks. The only upside was that Greg was now autonomous enuf to afford my frequent absences. I soldiered on, but two nights before New Years, I managed  to  get  myself  to  the  Metreon  to see  Chicago
Despite outstanding advance word, it was a high bar indeed to measure up to Verdon, Rivera & Orbach and the fingerprints of Fosse, which made it all the more sweet that the film was so happily realized. I returned to corroborate my first impression the following Sunday. By this time Father was released home once more, and against all odds seemed to dodge the Grim Reaper for the umpteenth time, looking and feeling somewhat healthy once again--much to Mother's desperate relief. My own relief was measured for I knew it only put off the inevitable again. The truth was neither of them had any interest in being alive anymore--Father's age and maladies put his global wanderings finally to rest; and Mother was nothing if not incessantly frail, nervous, and miserable. Mired in their natural Russian pessimism, they nonetheless clung to life with genetic fortitude--annoying each other as only the most intimates can, locked in mutual co-dependence & resentment. For years Father had stated when the End Was Near he would graciously shoot her first & then himself. But in the end he was both selfish and a coward. He only shot himself. After a fortnight his renewed vigor was curdling again, and seeing the writing on the wall; facing a return to hospital, or worse, a nursing home--he shot himself in the head upstairs in his office, while Mother was downstairs washing dishes. But sparing her life was ultimately crueler and a good deal more painful for all concerned--especially Mother. The Old Man exhibited signs of dementia as well in the last few weeks; one key example being his sudden conviction that his mother, my Baba, was secretly Jewish--his evidence being, "Look at her!" This was primarily preposterous for Baba was staunchly proud of her heritage, and if she was Jewish she would have worn it like armour. This was also curious as Father had always been something of a covert anti-semite, only to "out" himself on his deathbed as a Jew? God only knows what karmic guilt trips he was untangling in his dying brain. In the end he was true to his Russian self. Putting gun to temple, much as his father had (having colluded with the Germans, on the losing end of the war)--a tradition I'm certain not to continue. (Suicide, who knows? Guns, never). Facing only pain and  the prospect of failing organs, I can't say I blame him for his exit strategy. I only wish he took Mother with him. Believe me, she did too.

The House of My Parents was never one to inspire music. In fact once I'd left home, I don't think I ever heard music played there again unless it was, incidentally, on TV. The premise of Chicago is that the whole world is Show Biz. Even the most dire circumstances can be turned into show-stopping numbers. No doubt a good many people love musicals as an escape from their hardships or dark corners. But I fell into them for giving me a narrative where there wasn't one. There was nothing in my home or family that remotely suggested Show Biz; nothing that suggests a song--even metaphorically. There's no "Mr. Cellophane" for my Father, no "Losing My Mind" for Mother. Just "A Lot of Livin' to Do" for me, alone, in the fantasy world I curated. I was 22, living my childhood dream in NY at the opening of Chicago; on the verge of starting my career in theater, getting the thrill of seeing Gwen Verdon & Chita Rivera in the flesh, in a smash. When the movie came out I was 50, thru the wash in both Bway & Hlwd, and facing depressing times--only exasperated by global insanity and an unwinnable war the world was rushing into. It didn't seem so at the time, but in many ways 1975 looks bucolic in retrospect. Upon reflection, Fred Ebb's lyrics to "Nowadays" have a richer meaning when one has an actual half-century of living experience to see the long road traveled:
               In fifty years or so
               It's gonna change, you know
               But oh, it's heaven

Next Up: Phantom of the Opera

Report CardChicago
Overall Film:  A
Bway Fidelity:  A-
Songs from Bway:  11
Songs Cut from Bway:  5
Worst Omission:  "Me & My Baby"
New Songs:  1 (in end credits only) 
Standout Numbers:  "Roxie" "All I Care About"
               "Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag"
               "When You're Good to Mama"
Casting:  Definitive for some
Standout Cast: Rene Zellweger,
     John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah
Cast from Bway:  Chita Rivera (in cameo)
Direction: In the Spirit, but not shadow of Fosse
Choreography:  Son of Fosse
Scenic Design:  '20s stages & cells
Costumes:  Period perfect
Titles:  End titles: Cast photos, endless crawl
Oscar noms: 13, Won 6Best Picture, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Art Direction, Film Editing, Costumes, Sound-Mixing; Rene Zellweger, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, Rob Marsall (direction) Bill Condon (screenplay); Dion Beebe (cinematography); Song "I Move On," Kander & Ebb

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