Chicago the Musical in New York

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‘Chicago’ is one of the musicals that´s been on Broadway for the longest period of time. The musical was written by the journalist Maureen Dallas Watkins in 1924 and it was adapted in the 70s for a musical adaptation.

Dallas Watkins began to write it after covering the trial of the murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaetner for the Chicago Tribune, achieving huge popularity with her chronicles on the sordidness of this story of lust, violence, corruption and adultery that had attractive elements for a theatre play, which took her to write one.

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The story reached the hands of Gwen Verdon, who read it and saw the potential it had for a music, asking her husband, Bob Fosse, to produce it. Fosse quickly became interested and asked Dallas Watkins to authorize an adaptation, without managing to convince her despite his insistence on various occasions. In 1969, after the death of the journalist, Verdon and Fosse were left with the rights and finally managed to produce the musical.

Fred Ebb and John Kander worked on the music sheet and on the script and gave it the vaudeville style that was required for a musical, emphasising on a very interesting aspect that highlighted the central conflict of the play: the outlook on justice and showbiz in contemporary society.

The musical premiered in 1975 with great expectations and it received mixed critics and ut stayed on until 1977. In 1996 it was premiered once again with new adaptations which brought even more public. The bare scenography and the amount of public it had meant that the musical recovered all the investment in no time at all, a record for Broadway.

The real story and the one that´s reproduced in the musical is set in Chicago in 1920, years of corruption, mafia, illegal gambling and alcohol dens and organized crime, where policemen, political judges and influential businessmen were involved in this prosperous crime industry. According to many historians, Chicago during those years was a great reflection of the way that the United States has developed. It was in that atmosphere in which Beulah Annan and Belva Gaetner thrived. Both of them were beautiful women and were ready for everything if the result was to enjoy life. Beula was a beautiful and sexy redhead who was the wife of a mechanic who had been married twice and murdered her lover, Harry Kalstedt. Her accomplice, Belva Gaetner, was a beautiful and cold woman who was known as the ´queen of the cabarets in Chicago´ and lived in a luxurious apartment.

The cleverness that Dallas Watkins´ journalist and literary work had was that it denounced the judicial system that set these women free, who during the trial made the most of their physical virtues and managed to go free.

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