Almost no one would argue with you if you said that “Chicago” is among the greatest stage musical of all time. The songs, characters and dances are iconic, and its Broadway revival was the longest-running American musical in history.
The touring Equity production of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical is stopping at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for five shows this weekend, with evening shows Friday through Saturday and matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
The story comes from a 1926 straight play that was based on two real-life cases about women who murdered men. The original play, also titled “Chicago,” is itself obscure, but it has spawned several other works, including a silent film and the 1942 talkie “Roxie Hart.”
Choreographer Bob Fosse and writers Kander and Ebb (whose other best-known musical is “Cabaret”) turned the play into a vaudeville-style piece that satirized the criminal justice system, journalism, show business and the connections among the three. Fosse’s sexy and often bawdy choreography has remained the basis for the dancing in all future productions, and a number of Kander and Ebb songs from the show have become classics: “All That Jazz,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” “Cell Block Tango” and “Razzle Dazzle” are among the best-known Broadway numbers of the past half-century.