CHICAGO

Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse

Music by John Kander

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Directed and Choreographed by Bob Fosse

CAST
Velma Kelly Chita Rivera
Roxie Hart Gwen Verdon
Fred Casely Christopher Chadman
Sergeant Fogarty Richard Korthaze
Amos Hart Barney Martin
Liz Cheryl Clark
Annie Michon Peacock
June Candy Brown
Hunyak Graciela Daniele
Mona Pamela Sousa
Martin Harrison Michael Vita
Matron Mama Morton Mary McCarty
Billy Flynn Jerry Orbach
Mary Sunshine M. O'Haughey
Go-to-Hell Kitty Charlene Ryan
Harry Paul Solen
Aaron Gene Foote
The Judge Ron Schwinn
Court Clerk Gary Gendell

CHICAGO opened on Broadway on June 1, 1975 and ran for 947 performances.  A London version, which opened in 1979, had a run of 603 performances.  It was revived again on Broadway, opening at the Richard Rodgers theatre on November 14, 1996 with Fosse's choreography recreated by Ann Reinking and is still playing as I update this (December, 2008).  This 1996 production originated as an Encores staged presentation, without full costumes and sets.  A successful London revival was also put on in 1998.

CHICAGO is based on a play by Maurine Dallas Watkins which was inspired by a 1924 murder trial in Chicago.  Watkins was a reporter covering the trial; she wrote a dramatization of it, which was produced as a play in 1926.  This eventually was made into two films, CHICAGO (1927) and ROXIE HART, a 1942 comedy.  The idea of making it into a musical originated with Fosse, who acquired the rights in 1969 and saw it as a last show for Gwen Verdon, his wife.  Fred Ebb came up with an approach which treated the material as vaudeville; each of the musical numbers is a pastiche of a vaudeville routine.  This is the first Broadway libretto written by Ebb, who had a 40-year long collaboration with composer John Kander [including CABARET (1966), THE HAPPY TIME (1968), ZORBA (1968), 70, GIRLS, 70 (1971), THE ACT (1977), WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1981), THE RINK (1984), KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (1994) and STEEP PIER (1997).  In addition, Ebb wrote a number of acts for Liza Minnelli (including the Emmy award winning LIZA WITH A Z), with whom he and Kander first worked in FLORA, THE RED MENACE (1965).  Their song NEW YORK, NEW YORK, introduced by Liza Minnelli and popularized by Frank Sinatra, was made the official song of New York City.  On June 5, 2000 they received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Click here for more about the output of Kander and Ebb.

After only two days of rehearsals, Fosse had a severe heart attack and it was feared he would not survive.  The producers tried to find work for the cast in order to keep them together so they would be available when Fosse recovered.  A slightly fictionalized version of the show's creation appears in the film ALL THAT JAZZ (1979) [which had been CHICAGO's original title], where Roy Scheider portrayed Joe Gideon, the Fosse character.  

Fosse recovered after surgery and rehearsals picked up three months later.  The tone of the show turned darker in the aftermath of Fosse's brush with death.  Jerry Orbach:  "There was no room in Bobby's concept of the show for real sentiment.  He wanted something with an undertone of corruption."  As rehearsals evolved, the show approached the Fosse ideal of being "continuously musical" with scenes that were played in the midst of songs.

I was lucky enough to see CHICAGO three times in 1975; twice with Liza Minnelli in the lead when Gwen Verdon was out for nine weeks after surgery to remove polyps on her vocal chords.  The first time I saw it was a Wednesday evening performance on June 18, 1975 when a first row, orchestra ticket was $16.00.  I saw it again on September 6, 1975 when a fourth row mezzanine seat cost $15.00; and a third time on an unknown date, as I no longer have the ticket stub.  These last two times were with Liza Minnelli; and the third time Lenora Nemetz had taken over from Chita Rivera.

The musical was made into a long delayed film in 2002 and won Catherine Zeta-Jones the Oscar as Best Support Actress in the role originated by Chita Rivera (who made a cameo in the CELL BLOCK TANGO number).

I can't remember exactly what the set looked like, so I quote from ALL HIS JAZZ, a biography of Bob Fosse by Martin Gottfried.  The set was a "large cylinder that contained an elevator through which the characters in the story would often make entrances and exits.  The orchestra [had] the tinny sound of a jazz-age Chicago band, and it [played] on a platform atop the cylinder."  Other quotes in this webpage are also from Gottfried's book.  Jerry Orbach was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame on January 31, 2000.  The minimum requirement for this honor is a 25-year theatrical career with at least 5 appearances on Broadway.

Writing in ANYTHING GOES (Oxford University Press 2013), Ethan Mordden calls this Bob Fosse's "ideal project. ... CHICAGO played in a space without sets (though the actors were realistically costumed), the various locales defined by the action rather than by a visual map. ...  Billed as 'a musical vaudeville,' CHICAGO amounted to a deconstruction of traditional musical-comedy staging. ... Fosse had conceived CHICAGO as a kind of blueprint for a narrative rather than the narrative itself. ... CHICAGO's score ... stood apart from the story in a series of performance pieces. ... Further, most of the numbers were pointedly modeled on specialties out of the show-biz past."

"CHICAGO was, in all, an evening of unprecedented theatricality, a musical about how musicals work while, so to say, 'unworking' them.  Further, this musical had a point to make--that show biz has so permeated American life that everything in it is an 'act', and morality is a performance.  Not till O.J. Simpson's acquittal in a double-murder trial did we see how observant CHICAGO had been."

OVERTURE

Click here for  a 30 second soundbyte from the of the original Broadway cast album.

All That Jazz

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album

As the show opens, Velma Kelly emerges from an elevator which rises onto the stage level.  She sings:

Come on, Babe
Why don't we paint the town?
And all that jazz.

I'm gonna rouge my knees
And roll my stockings down
And all that jazz.

Start the car
I know a whoopee spot
Where the gin is cold
But the piano's hot;

It's just a noisy hall
Where there's a nightly brawl
And all that jazz!

Slick your hair
And wear your buckle shoes
And all that jazz.

I hear that Father Dip
Is gonna blow the blues
And all that jazz.

Hold on, hon,
We're gonna bunny hug;
I bought some aspirin
Down at United Drug

In case you shake apart
And want a brand new start
To do that jazz.
Company: Oh, you're gonna see your Sheba
Shimmy shake
Velma: And all that jazz.
Company: Oh, she's gonna shimmy
Till her garters break
Velma: And all that jazz.
Company: Show her where to park her girdle;
Oh, her mother's blood'd curdle
If she'd hear
Her baby's queer
For all that jazz!

Find a flask;
We're playing fast and loose
And all that jazz!

Right up here
Is where I store the juice
And all that jazz!

Come on, Babe,
We're gonna brush the sky;
I betcha Lucky Lindy
Never flew so high

'Cause in the stratosphere
How could he lend an ear
To all that jazz?

During this Roxie Hart shoots her lover, Fred Casely, because he's told her their affair is over.  Velma continues singing:

No, I'm no one's wife
But, oh, I love my life
And all that jazz!
That jazz!


Funny Honey

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Roxie has persuaded her husband, Amos, that she shot a burglar and it would be better if he confessed to protect her.  Sitting on a piano, drinking gin from a flask, Roxie sings:

Sometimes I'm right;
Sometimes I wrong,
But he doesn't care;
He'll string along.
He loves me so
That funny honey of mine!

Sometimes I'm down;
Sometimes I'm up,
But he follows ' round
Like some droopy-eyed pup.
He loves me so
That funny honey of mine.

He ain't no sheik;
That's no great physique.
Lord knows, he ain't got the smarts.

But look at that soul;
I tell you, that whole
Is a whole lot greater
Than the sum of his parts;

And if you knew him like me,
I know you'd agree.

What if the world
Slandered my name?
Why, he'd be right there
Takin' the blame

He loves me so,
And it all suits me fine;
That funny sunny, honey
Hubby of mine!

Not content to leave well enough alone, Amos embroiders on his confession until he finds out the body is Fred Casely.  Roxie knows him; he sold the Harts their furniture.  Amos realizes Roxie lied to him and retracts his confession.  Roxie continues to sing:

Lord knows
He ain't got the smarts.
Now, he's shot off his trap
I can't stand that sap.

Look at him go
Rattin', rattin' on me
With just one more brain
What a half-wit he'd be.

If they string me up
I'll know, I'll know who brought the twine:
That scummy, crummy
Dummy hubby of mine.


Cell Block Tango

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Velma and five other women are behind bars.
Liz: Pop.
Annie: Six.
June: Squish.
Hunyak: Uh uh.
Velma: Cicero.
Mona: Lipschitz!

They repeat this two more times, then all sing:

He had it comin';
He had it comin';
He only had himself to blame.
If you'd have been there;
If you'd have seen it;
I betcha you would have done the same!

Each of the murderesses tells her story, then they repeat the chorus.

They had it comin';
They had it comin';
They took a flower in its prime;
Then they used it
And they abused it.
It was a murder, but not a crime!

The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!
The dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!

They had it comin';
They had it comin';
They had it comin' all along
'Cause if they used us
And they abused us,
How could you tell us
That we were wrong?

He had it comin';
He had it comin';
He only had himself to blame.
If you'd have been there;
If you'd have seen it;
I betcha you would have done the same!
Liz: You pop that gun one more time!
Annie: Single my ass.
June: Ten times!
Hunyak: Miert csukott Uncle Sam bortonbe.
Velma: Number Seventeen - the spread eagle.
Mona: Artistic differences.
All: I betcha you would have done the same!


When You're Good to Mama

Click here for a 30-second sound byte from the original Broadway cast album.

This is sort of a hoochy cooch Last of the Red Hot Mamas type number.  The arrangement is very hip swaying!  The lyrics contain a number of hysterical double entendres but some of them are so subtle that just listening to the lyrics, they might slide by.  The way this was staged by Fosse, the gestures and facial expressions of Mary McCarty made sure you didn't miss them.  For instance, when she says she deserves a lot of tat, for what she's got to give, she very deliberately lifts up her rather large bosom and drops it down right on the beat.

Matron Mama Morton of the Cook County Jail has arranged for Velma to be defended by Billy Flynn and then go on a vaudeville tour at greatly enhanced rates when she is acquitted.

Ask any of the chickies in my pen
They'll tell you I'm the biggest mother--hen.
I love them all and all of them love me
Because the system works;
The system called reciprocity. . .

Got a little motto
Always sees me through:
When you're good to Mama
Mama's good to you.

There's a lotta favors
I'm prepared to do;
You do one for Mama,
She'll do one for you.

They say that life is tit for tat
And that's the way I live;
So I deserve a lot of tat
For what I've got to give.

Don'tcha know that this hand
Washes that one too?
When you're good to Mama
Mama's good to you.

If you want my gravy,
Pepper my ragout;
Spice it up for Mama;
She'll get hot for you.

When they pass that basket
Folks contribute to,
You put in for Mama,
She'll put out for you.

The folks atop the ladder
Are the ones the world adores;
So boost me up my ladder, kid,
And I'll boost you up yours.

Let's all stroke together
Like the Princeton crew.
When you're strokin' Mama,
Mama's strokin' you.

So what's the one conclusion
I can bring this number to?
When you're good to Mama,
Mama's good to you!

Mama advises Roxie not to tell the truth at her trial.   She tells her that Billy Flynn has never lost a case for a female client, but Roxie would need $5,000 to hire him.  Roxie sweet talks Amos into promising to get the money.


All I Care About is Love

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

This is a parody of a crooner even down to the "bah bah bah, boo boo boo".  Not too many people could get away with this, but on Jerry Orbach, it sounds great.  In fact, he does this number so perfectly - he completely captures the wonderful insincerity of Fred Ebb's lyrics:  this is a lawyer saying that he doesn't care about fancy suits and silk cravats, at the same time he stripping off his finery (partially hidden by the dancers' fans, his pants seem to disappear by magic).  In the end, he becomes so strident in his protests of his selfless nature, he reminds me of that parody of Greta Garbo that Peter Cook did, where he portrays the enigmatic Emma Bargo who goes around town on the back of a lorry with a megaphone, shouting that she wants to be left alone.

Is everybody here?  Is everybody ready?  Hit it!

I don't care about expensive things:
Cashmere coats, diamond rings
Don't mean a thing;
All I care about is love;
That's what I'm here for.

I don't care for wearin' silk cravats,
Ruby studs, satin spats
Don't mean a thing.
All I care about is love.

Gimme two eyes of blue
Softly sayin' "I need you".
Let me see her standin' there
And honest, Mister, I'm a millionaire.

I don't care for any fine attire
Vanderbilt might admire.
No, no, not me.
All I care about is love. . .

(whistles)
It may sound odd,
But all I care about is love.
That's what he's here for.

Bah bah bah bah bah bah boo boo boo
Bah bah bah bah boo boo boo.
Honest to God,
All I care about is love.

Show me long, long raven hair
Flowin' down about to there;
When I see her runnin' free -
Keep your money,
That's enough for me!

I don't care for drivin' Packard cars
Or smokin' long buck cigars;
No, no, not me
All I care about is
Doin' the guy in
Who's pickin' on you,
Twistin' the wrist
That's turnin' the screw.
All I care about is love.

Amos has been able to raise only $2,000 but Flynn agrees to take the case; he will plant stories in the newspaper to make Roxie famous then auction off her belongings to raise the money.


A Little Bit of Good

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Flynn figures he will have no trouble planting a story in the paper that will be accepted by Mary Sunshine, the "sob sister" from the Evening Star.  Mary enters and sings:

When I was a tiny tot
Of maybe two or three
I can still remember what
My mother said to me . . .

Place rose colored glasses on your nose
And you will see the robins
Not the crows

For in the tense and tangled web
Our weary lives can weave,
You're so much better off if you believe . . .

That there's a little bit of good in everyone
In everyone you'll ever know.
Yes, there's a little bit of good in everyone,
Though many times, it doesn't show.

It only takes the taking time with one another
For under every mean veneer
There's someone warm and dear
Keep looking . . .

For that bit of good in everyone;
The ones we call bad
Are never all bad;
So try to find that little bit of good!

A little, little bit of good:
There's someone warm and dear
Keep looking . . .

For that little good in everyone;
Although you meet rats,
They're not complete rats,
So try to find that little bit of good!


We Both Reached for the Gun

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Flynn instructs Roxie to soft pedal the swearing; he has rewritten the story of Roxie's life to get the sympathy of the press and having her pretend to be sorry.  His plan is to plead self defense.  Flynn plops Roxie on his knee like a ventriloquist's dummy; he sings all of her lines, as she just moves her mouth:
Reporters: Where'd you come from?
Billy/Roxie: Mississippi.
Reporters: And your parents?
Billy/Roxie: Very wealthy.
Reporters: Where are they now?
Billy/Roxie: Six feet under.
Billy: But she was granted one more start:
Billy/Roxie: The convent of the sacred heart!
Reporters: When'd you get here?
Billy/Roxie: Nineteen twenty.
Reporters: How old were you?
Billy/Roxie: Don't remember.
Reports: Then what happened?
Billy/Roxie: I met Amos
And he stole my heart away;
Convinced me to elope one day.
Mary Sunshine: A convent girl!  A run away marriage!  Oh, it's too terrible. You poor, poor dear.
Reporters: Who's Fred Casely?
Billy/Roxie: My ex-boyfriend.
Reporters: Why'd you shoot him?
Billy/Roxie: I was leavin'.
Reporters: Was he angry?
Billy/Roxie: Like a madman!
Still I said, "Fred, move along".
Billy: She know that she was doin' wrong.
Reporters: Then describe it.
Billy/Roxie: He came toward me.
Reporters: With the pistol?
Billy/Roxie: From my bureau.
Reporters: Did you fight him?
Billy/Roxie: Like a tiger.
Billy: He had strength and she had none . . .
Billy/Roxie: And yet we both reached for the gun.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, we both, Oh yes, we both
Oh yes, we both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
Oh yes, we both reached for the gun, for the gun.
Billy & Reporters: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
Oh yes, they both reached for the gun, for the gun
Billy: Understandable
Understandable
Yes, it's perfectly understandable.
Comprehensible
Comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible
It's so defensible!
Reporters: How're you feeling?
Billy/Roxie: Very frightened.
Reporters: Are you sorry?
Roxie: Are you kidding?
Reporters: What's your statement?
Billy/Roxie: All I'd say is
Though my choo-choo
Jumped the track
I'd give my life to bring
Him back . . .
Reporters: And?
Billy/Roxie: Stay away from . . .
Reporters: What?
Billy/Roxie: Jazz and liquor . . .
Reporters: And?
Billy/Roxie: And the men who . . .
Reporters: What?
Billy/Roxie: Play for fun . . .
Reporters: And what?
Billy/Roxie: That's the thought that . . .
Reporters: Yeah?
Billy/Roxie: Came upon me  . . .
Reporters: When?
Billy/Roxie: When we both reached for the gun.
Mary Sunshine: Understandable
Understandable
Billy & Mary: Yes, it's perfectly understandable.
Comprehensible
Comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible
It's so defensible!
Reporters: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
Oh yes, they both reached for the gun, for the gun

At the end, Flynn pretends to drink a glass of water (a favorite trick of ventriloquists) while singing the last line as Roxie:  Both reached for the gun!


Roxie

Click here for 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

The newspaper headlines all scream sympathy for Roxie.  She always wanted to be in show business and now it looks as if her notoriety can lead there, if Flynn can get her off from the murder charge.  Roxie sings:

The name on everybody's lips
Is gonna be Roxie.
The lady rakin' in the chips
Is gonna be Roxie.

I'm gonna be a celebrity;
That means somebody everyone knows.
They're gonna recognize my eyes,
My hair, my teeth, my boobs, my nose.

From just some dumb mechanic's wife
I'm gonna be Roxie.
Who says that murder's not an art?

And who, in case she doesn't hang,
Can say she started with a bang?
Roxie Hart!

They're gonna wait outside in line
To get to see Roxie.
Think of those autographs I'll sign:
"Good luck to you", Roxie.

And I'll appear in a lavaliere
That goes all the way down to my waist.
Here a ring, there a ring
Everywhere a ring a ling,
But always in the best of taste.

She's giving up her humdrum life;
I'm gonna be Roxie.
She made a scandal and a start.

And Sophie Tucker'll shit, I know
To see her name get billed below
Foxy Roxie Hart!


I Can't Do It Alone

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Roxie's publicity has driven Velma off the front page; her vaudeville tour has been canceled.  In desperation, Velma decides to talk Roxie into doing a two act, like the one she used to do with her sister.

My sister and I had an act that couldn't flop.
My sister and I were headed straight for the top.
My sister and I earned a thou a week, at least, oh yeah,
But my sister is now, unfortunately deceased.

I know, it's sad, of course, but a fact is still a fact;
And now all that remains
Is the remains
Of a perfect double act!

Watch this:

First I'd . . . (drums)
Then she'd . . . (saxophone)
Then we'd . . . (together)
But I can't do it alone!

Then she'd . . .
Then I'd . . .
Then we'd . . .
But I can't do it alone!

She'd say, "What's your sister like?"
I'd say, "Men", yuk, yuk, yuk.
She'd say, "You're the cat's meow"
Then we'd wow the crowd again

When she'd go . . .
I'd go . . .
We'd go . . .

And then those two bit Johnnies did it up brown
To cheer the best attraction in town
They nearly tore the balcony down.

Now, you've seen me goin' through it;
It may seem there's nothin' to it
But I simply cannot do it alone!


My Own Best Friend

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Roxie isn't interested in pairing with Velma and turns her down none too easily.  Then they are both swept off the headlines by Go to Hell Kitty and her triple murder.  Suddenly Flynn is too busy for them as well.  Roxie and Velma sing of their determination to help themselves:

One thing I know
And I've always known:
I am my own best friend.
Baby's alive
But Baby's alone
And Baby's her own best friend.

Many's the guy
Who told me he cares,
But they were scratchin' my back
'Cause I was scratchin' theirs.

And trustin' to luck
That's only for fools.
I play in a game
Where I make the rules.

And rule number one
From here to the end
Is I am my own best friend.

Three musketeers
Who never say die
Are standing here this minute:
Me,
Myself
And I.

If life is a school,
I'll pass every test.
If life is a game,
I'll play it the best.

'Cause I won't give in
And I'll never bend
And I am my own best friend.

(I discovered from the book COLORED LIGHTS published 2003, that when Liza took over this role for the 8 weeks Gwen Verdon was out, she did this solo, without Chita, as Kander and Ebb had originally envisioned it.)  

At the end of the song, Roxie faints; when she comes to, she announces she's going to have a baby.  The press and Flynn immediately give her their undivided attention once again as the curtain falls.


Me and My Baby

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.


Act II opens with a doctor confirming Roxie's pregnancy, much to Velma's disgust who knows Roxie is pulling a fast one.  Roxie sings:

Me and my baby
My baby and me
We're 'bout as happy as babies can be.
What if I find
That I'm caught in a storm?
I don't care
My baby's there
And baby's bound to keep me warm.
Stickin' together
And ain't we got fun.
So much together
You'd count us as one.
Tell old man worry to go climb a tree
'Cause I've got my baby;
I'm with my baby;
Look at my baby and me.


Mr. Cellophane

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Amos thinks he must be the father, but no one pays any attention to him.  Flynn manipulates Amos into divorcing Roxie, in order to gain her sympathy at the trial.  Dressed in a clownish costume, Amos sings:

If someone stood up in a crowd
And raised his voice up way out loud
And waved his arm
And shook his leg,
You'd notice him.

If someone in a movie show
Yelled "fire in the second row,
This whole place is a powder keg!"
You'd notice him.

And even without cluckin' like a hen,
Everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!

Cellophane,
Mr. Cellophane,
Should have been my name:
Mr. Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there!

I tell ya
Cellophane,
Mr. Cellophane
Should have been my name
Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me,
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there. . .

Suppose you was a little cat
Residin' in a person's flat
Who fed you fish and scratched your ears?
You'd notice him.

Suppose you was a woman wed
And sleepin' in a double bed
Beside one man for seven years,
You'd notice him.

A human bein's made of more than air;
With all that bulk, you're bound to see him there,
Unless that human bein' next to you
Is unimpressive, undistinguished
You know who . . .

Should have been my name:
Mr. Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me,
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there . . .

I tell ya,
Cellophane,
Mr. Cellophane
Should have been my name,
Mr. Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me,
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there,
Never even know I'm there.
(Hope I didn't take up too much of your time).


When Velma Takes the Stand

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Flynn comes to the jail to visit Roxie; while he's waiting for her to appear, Velma takes the opportunity of describing what she has planned for her trial (which has been postponed, so Roxie's trial can be sooner).
Velma: Well, when I got on the stand, I thought I'd take a peek at the jury, and then cross my legs like this, you know.
Chorus: When Velma takes the stand.
Velma: Then, when Harrison cross examines me, I thought I'd give 'em this . . . and then if he yells at me, I thought I'd tremble like this . . .
Chorus: When Velma takes the stand:
Look at little Vel;
See her give 'em hell.
Ain't she doin' grand?
She got 'em eating out of the
Palm of her hand!
Velma: Then, I thought I'd let it all be too much for me, you know, like real dramatic.  Then, I thought I'd get real thirsty and say, "Oh please, someone, could I have a glass of water?"
Chorus: When Velma takes the stand:
See that Kelly girl
Make that jury whirl;
When she turns it on
She's gonna get 'em goin'
'Till she's got 'em gone.
Velma: Then, I thought I'd cry.  Buckets.  Only I don't have a handkerchief - that's when I have to ask for yours!  I really like that.  Don't you?  Oh, good!  Then, I thought I'd try to get up and walk, only I'm too weak, and I slump and I slump and I slump and I slump, and finally, I faint!
Chorus: When she rolls her eyes
Watch her take the prize
When Velma takes the stand!


Razzle Dazzle

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

This number was very cleverly staged by Fosse; but all I can remember is that one person played all twelve jurors, and he somehow managed to convey just by mime and facial expression that he was different people.  According to the Gottfried book, Jerry Orbach sings this number "standing on a flight of stairs with the judge seated at the top."

Roxie thinks she can do without Flynn and fires him; the Hungarian woman, Katalin Hunyak, who doesn't speak any English except "not guilty" becomes the first woman in Chicago to be hanged for murder in 47 years.  Frightened, Roxie gets Billy back on her case.  As he goes into the courtroom, Flynn rumples himself to look more like Clarence Darrow.  He reassures Roxie:

It's all show business, Kid.  These trials - the whole world - show business.  But, Kid, you're working with a star, the biggest!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle,
Razzle dazzle 'em.
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate.

Give 'em the old hocus pocus,
Bead and feather 'em.
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle,
Razzle dazzle 'em.
Back since the days of old Methusaleh,
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-leh.

Give 'em the old three ring circus,
Stun and stagger 'em.
When you're in trouble, go into your dance.
Though you are stiffer than a girder
They let ya get away with murder
Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance.

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle,
Razzle dazzle 'em.
Give 'em an act that's unassailable;
They'll wait a year 'til you're available.

Give 'em the old double whammy
Daze and dizzy 'em.
Show 'em the first rate sorcerer you are.
Long as you keep 'em way off balance,
How can they spot you got no talents?

Razzle dazzle 'em,
Razzle dazzle 'em,
Razzle dazzle 'em,
And they'll make you a star!


Class

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Mama Morton and Velma listen to reports of the trial on the radio, where Velma realizes Roxie has stolen her publicity, her lawyer, her trial date, her shoes, and all the little touches she intended to put on for her own trial.  Mama commiserates with Velma about what a low brow Roxie is.
Matron: Ah Velma, things ain't the way they used to be.
Velma: They sure ain't, Mama, they sure ain't.
Whatever happened to fair dealing?
And pure ethics
And nice manners?
Why is it everyone now is a pain in the ass?
Whatever happened to class?
Matron: Class.
Whatever happened to, "Please, may I?"
And, "Yes, thank you"?
And "How charming"?
Now, every son of a bitch is a snake in the grass.
Whatever happened to class?
Both: Class!
Ah, there ain't no gentleman to open up the doors
There ain't no ladies now, there's only pigs and whores
And even kids'll knock ya down so's they can pass.
Nobody's got no class!
Velma: Whatever happened to old values?
Matron: And final morals?
Velma: And good breeding?
Matron: Now, no one even says "oops" when they're passing their gas.
Both: Whatever happened to class?
Class.
Ah, there ain't no gentlemen who's fit for any use
And any girl'd touch your privates for a deuce.
Matron: And even kids'll kick your shins and give you sass.
Both: Nobody's got no class!
Velma: All you read about today is rape and theft.
Matron: Jesus Christ, ain't there no decency left?
Both: Nobody's got no class.
Matron: Everybody you watch
Velma: 's got his brains in his crotch.
Matron: Holy crap.
Velma: Holy crap.
Matron: What a shame.
Velma: What a shame.
Both: What became of class?


Nowadays

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.

Flynn's summation includes the revelation that Mary Sunshine is a man.  Roxie is acquitted, but her notoriety has been a flash in the pan, overshadowed by a new murder right in the courthouse.  Flynn departs and Amos enters, ready to take Roxie home.  She tells him there is no baby.  Amos still wants her but Roxie is not interested in him, so he leaves.  Roxie sings:

It's good, isn't it?
Grand, isn't it?
Great, isn't it?
Swell, isn't it?
Fun, isn't it?
Nowadays.

There's men, everywhere,
Jazz, everywhere,
Booze, everywhere,
Life, everywhere,
Joy, everywhere,
Nowadays.

You can like the life you're livin';
You can live the life you like.
You can even marry Harry
But mess around with Ike,
And that's

Good, isn't it?
Grand, isn't it?
Great, isn't it?
Swell, isn't it?
Fun . . .

Inevitably Velma (also recently acquitted) and Roxie team up for an act; they are finally headliners in show business:

You can like the life you're livin';
You can live the life you like.
You can even marry Harry
But mess around with Ike,
And that's

Good, isn't it?
Grand, isn't it?
Great, isn't it?
Swell, isn't it?
Fun, isn't it?
But nothin' stays.

In fifty years or so
It's gonna change, you know,
But, oh, it's heaven
Nowadays.


All That Jazz (Reprise)

Click here for a 30-second soundbyte from the original Broadway cast album.
Company: Oh, you're gonna see your Sheba
Shimmy shake
Velma: And all that jazz.
Company: Oh, she's gonna shimmy
Till her garters break
Velma: And all that jazz.

Start the car
I know a whoopee spot
Where the gin is cold
But the piano's hot;

It's just a noisy hall
Where there's a nightly brawl
And all that . . .

No, I'm no one's wife
But, oh, I love my life
And all that jazz!
That jazz!


On September 25, 2004, nearly 30 years after seeing the original cast (and a week after the death of lyricist and book co-writer Fred Ebb), I saw the revival, a concert version, with no costumes or scenery, at the Ambassador Theatre.  I was tempted back because Wayne Brady took over the role of Billy Flynn.  Wayne was very good in the role, as were the other cast members, Terra C. MacLeod as Velma Kelly, Charlotte D'Amboise as Roxie Hart, P.J. Benjamin as Amos Hart and Anne L. Nathan as Matron "Mama" Morton.

I was surprised the 13-piece orchestra took up so much of the stage, on different levels of stadium type seating, right in the center, leaving very little space for the actors and dancers.  When the chorus wasn't dancing, they sat on chairs to both sides of the orchestra, while the main actors, when not "on" ,often were seated on the steps with the orchestra members.

Having my memory of the original show refreshed by the 2002 film version, I was better able to appreciate the nuances of Bob Fosse's choreography which was reproduced, as far as able, within the limitations of the tiny amount of stage available.  The precision of the dancer's wrist movements, hand gestures, sometimes just finger manipulation was notable.  All of the male chorus dancers "looked" like Fosse with his trademark snap brim hat and hunched body posture.  The synchronized pelvic thrusts were so sexy in the tight, revealing costumes (all black, with Wayne Brady in a tuxedo).

Aside from the restaging of some of the choreography (several numbers were sung from high atop ladders to the side of the proscenium), a couple of the songs were reorchestrated; and in WE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUN, Wayne Brady didn't pretend to drink water while simultaneously singing, a standard ventriloquist trick, but instead held one note for a long time, which the audience applauded.  I was impressed with how smooth the show was, it went like a rocket, starting a little after 2 and ending around 4:30 with one intermission, except for the ROXIE number, which was elongated by a lot of extra "cutesy" physical shtick by Charlotte d'Amboise which Gwen Verdon (who was in her '50s when she did this) didn't do.

Another thing changed was that the 1975 ticket price of $16 for an evening performance was now $100 for a Saturday matinee!

All lyrics posted copyright 1973 or 1975 John Kander and Fred Ebb
Kander-Ebb, Inc. and Unichappell Music Inc.

Compiled by Judy Harris

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