Chicago-ing, going, gone: No more of that jazz as hit West End musical close after 15 years
23:28 GMT, 12 July 2012
Razzle-dazzle'em: Ute Lemper as Velma Kelly in the original West end production in 1997
The musical Chicago, which added sex and sparkle to a combustible mixture of murder and betrayal, will close after a record revival run of 15 years in the West End.
Last night, the cast of the show running at the Garrick Theatre were told the curtain will come down for the last time on September 1.
Chicago explores the fortunes of two murderesses — Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly — on death row for shooting the men they wanted out of their lives.
The theme of using notoriety to achieve fame resonated with audiences when the show opened at the Adelphi (it moved to the Cambridge and then the Garrick) with Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper as, respectively, Roxie and Velma.
Nowadays, it’s commonplace for people with no discernible talent or achievement to become famous — particularly on those sewer-level TV talent shows, such as ITV1’s latest offering, Superstar.
The beauty of Chicago, created by John Kander and Fred Ebb, was that director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking, a disciple and one-time lover of Bob Fosse — who was behind an earlier version — loaded it with a sensuality that kept audiences in a state of rapt razzle-dazzle.
Leading ladies and chorus girls would slink on to the stage in black, silky lingerie and tights and stockings of various styles, from fishnet to sheer. And suspenders.
‘The show brought an acceptable form of sex to the theatre,’ producer Barry Weissler noted yesterday.
He observed that he and his wife Fran cast the show on a global scale, bringing in the likes of Christie Brinkley, America Ferrera, Brooke Shields and Sacha Distel.
On the home front, the cast has included Maria Friedman, Henry Goodman, Nigel Planer, Denise Van Outen, Linzi Hateley, Kelly Osbourne and Raza Jaffrey.
Catherine Zeta Jones' role as Velma Kelly in the film version of Chicago” received an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress for her role as the famous performer who murders her husband
Former cast members from Chicago' pose to celebrate ten years of the show L-R: Sally Ann Triplett, Bonnie Langford, Brenda Edwards, Claire Sweeney, Denise Van Outen, Ruthie Henshall, Ute Lemper, Gaby Roslin, Kelly Osbourne and Linzi Hateley
Ever the showman, Weissler has
contracted Olympic skating gold medallist Robin Cousins to play legal
shark Billy Flynn for its last hurrah, starting on Tuesday, and said he
wanted to close Chicago ‘with the winner’s laurel on our heads’.
When the show opened in 1997, Weissler and his wife dreamed of it running for five or ten years.
‘We’ve done 15, so I think we’ve done extremely well,’ he said. ‘Now we’ll tip our hats and go off.’
The Garrick Theatre where the last show of Chicago will be staged in September this year
But not so fast, folks. The guns used in Chicago clearly didn’t fire real bullets, so don’t bet on it being away from London for too long.
‘Expect a future,’ Weissler said somewhat ambiguously.
Give it a year or two, and we’ll see those ladies in corsets and stockings once again.
Roxie: Many famous faces have appeared on the stage in Chicago including Denise van Outen as Roxie Hart
Aoife Mulholland, a finalist from the BBC's How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria, and actress Maria Friedman playing Roxie Hart
The Family Guy sings
Seth MacFarlane, the man behind TV’s Family Guy and the ridiculously funny new movie Ted (which stars a walking, talking, beer-swilling, spliff-smoking teddy bear) shows his tender side, and a talent for crooning, with an album being released here on August 27, on Decca, called Music Is Better Than Words.
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It’s the dope all right. The album’s packed full of popular standards, such as Two Sleepy People, It’s Easy To Remember and versions of Something Good, from The Sound Of Music, and The Night They Invented Champagne, from Gigi, that are joyous.
The disc has been orchestrated with the snappiness and lushness that makes you think of Nelson Riddle and Billy May, who orchestrated for Frank Sinatra. Although Mr MacFarlane is no Ol’ Blue Eyes, he is pretty good.
You can catch him at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Proms on August 27, and he’s also swinging by Ronnie Scott’s on August 30.
It's salsa light, sequins, action
Nick Frost was pacing the room in a sparkly maroon shirt and Cuban heels. The dance floor was all lit up and everyone was eager to let loose their salsa moves.
Frost stars with Chris O’Dowd, Rashida Jones and Olivia Colman in a movie called Cuban Fury, which director James Griffiths was shooting the day I visited the set in North-West London this week.
Fifteen months ago, Frost sketched out a vague idea he shared with producer Nira Park about a film with lots of dancing and sequins that would be filmed in Miami.
They had to settle for Twickenham and Camden instead, but the rest of Frost’s idea was fleshed out by screenwriter Jon Brown and now, zoom, it’s filming.
Frost said the movie is a very expensive form of therapy ‘to get over a fear of dancing’.
He added that the last time he danced, before embarking on a six-month, four-hour-a-day salsa training marathon for the film, was at his wedding. ‘Well, I didn’t exactly dance, it was that shuffling of feet you do before everybody moves on to the dance floor.’
Frost plays a man who becomes emotionally crippled following a childhood trauma just before he was to take part in a junior dance championship.
Ms Park showed me some footage of a barrer el suelo (commonly known as ‘sweeping the floor’, but I prefer the Spanish translation) and it’s fantastic. Frost looks supremely confident and Colman — who has a cor blimey pair of pins — ebullient.
The actress waves her arm at me. ‘Look, I’ve got bruises. I’m so proud of them,’ she said. ‘I can’t dance really,’ she confessed, before explaining that the choreographer helps her blag it.
I found myself gently swaying as the music played.
I would have looked good in sequins.