Highly Recommended Theater: CHICAGO (National Tour at San Diego Civic Theatre)

Post image for Highly Recommended Theater: CHICAGO (National Tour at San Diego Civic Theatre)

by Milo Shapiro on January 19, 2024

in Theater-Regional,Theater-San Diego,Tours


Coming to the San Diego Civic Theatre is the National Tour of the 1996 revival of Chicago, now the longest-running revival in Broadway history, and the second longest running musical behind Phantom of the Opera. But it’s a short run, February 13-18, 2024, so don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning. Presented by Broadway San Diego, Chicago is a must-see for any musical lover. And if you’re not a musical lover, this show will make you one. It is entertaining as hell, and you will be treated to camp, jazz licks, belting solos, a great band, and sexy dancers. So, go spend an evening and experience what Broadway is very good at. John Kander and Fred Ebb’s songs remain the catchiest score ever written. And the famous moves of director/choreographer Bob Fosse (who co-authored the book with Ebb for the 1975 original), remain in the revival, thanks to Ann Reinking‘s re-creation of the Vaudeville-style numbers.

Connor Sullivan and the Fan Girls

One of the wonderful things about period pieces is that they rarely feel dated. Chicago, taking the audience back to 1926, feels just as fresh today as it did when it debuted on Broadway in June of 1975. But its history dates back much further.

Kailin Brown as Velma Kelly with Company

In the mid-20s, reporter Maurine Dallas covered a series of high-profile murders that had taken place in Chicago with a unique twist: All had been committed by women and most were acquitted by the all-male juries of the time. The public couldn’t seem to get enough of the coverage, which gave Dallas the idea that this could make a strong basis for a play. She chose two defendants, Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner, as being two of the most interesting and created her play, Chicago, with a plot that weaved the two of them together, with the fictional names Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, respectively. Her idea worked; it played 172 performances on Broadway in 1926 (a huge run at that time) and led to two film adaptations in 1926 and 1942.

The National Tour of CHICAGO

The play found its way into the hands of actress/dancer Gwen Verdon in the 1960s and she saw the possibility of a musicalization. She brought it to husband Bob Fosse who approached Dallas, who refused repeatedly. Fortunately for theaterlovers, after her death in 1969, her heirs were less protective of the material and struck a deal with Fosse, who brought in Ebb to collaborate.


The story centers on Roxie Hart (played by Verdon originally, with Reinking in the revival), who murders her lover when he tries to end the affair. She convinces her dupe of a husband, Amos, that he was a burglar who tried to take advantage of her and Amos takes the blame, protecting her honor. Due to a flaw in her story, Amos sees through the ruse and turns on his wife, leading to her being jailed. There, she meets an interesting set of atypically-powerful women, including Velma (originally played by Chita Rivera; Bebe Neuwirth in the revival), who is also accused of mariticide. Velma is used to having a certain amount of clout in the jail but Roxie cuts into that and the sparks that are Chicago begin to fly. An interesting side note is that Velma’s role was originally intended to be smaller, but when Rivera got the part, they wanted to make more of having such a celebrity in the cast.

Robert Quiles as Amos Hart

With great songs like “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” and “When You’re Good To Mama,” audiences fell for the dastardly duo and the show became a Broadway hit, running 937 performances for over two years and being nominated, in 1976, for twelve Tony nominations, losing out in Best Play to mega-hit A Chorus Line. The revival — based on the minimalist presentation by City Center’s Encores! — proved far more successful, its runaway success sparking a greater appreciation of the 1975 original production and renewing stalled interest in the film adaptation, which incorporates the influences of both productions, winning Best Picture in 2002).

Katie Frieden and the cast of Chicago
The National Tour Company of CHICAGO

photos of tour by Jeremy Daniel

National Tour presented by Broadway San Diego
San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Avenue
February 13-18, 2024
for tickets, call 619.564.3000 or visit BroadwaySD
for more tour dates and cities, visit Chicago The Musical

The National Tour Company dancers of CHICAGO

The cast of CHICAGO features Katie Frieden returning as Roxie Hart, Kailin Brown as Velma Kelly, Connor Sullivan as Billy Flynn, Illeana “illy” Kirven returning as Matron “Mama” Morton, Robert Quiles as Amos Hart and J. Terrell as Mary Sunshine. The cast also includes Paul Amrani, Olivia Lacie Andrews, Bentlei Benak, Faith Jordan Candino, Jason Carroll, Austin Taylor Dunn, Ed Gotthelf, Olivia Greco, Chelsea James, Liz Lester, Joe Meldrum, Adolfo Ortiz-Feder, Lauren Teyke, Kodiak Thompson, Francisco Thurston and Cait Zuckerman.

"The Affair" in CHICAGO

Leave a Comment