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
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