Most viewed musical of all times comes to Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 9/29/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The musical 'Chicago,' which has been performed in 24 countries in 11 languages, is in Turkey for 13 shows between Oct. 1 and 10. The musical, based on a 1926 play of the same name by Chicago Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, will be staged at Istanbul's Maslak TİM Show Center, which worked to bring the production to the country for five years

A winner of six Tony awards, two Olivier awards, a Grammy and thousands of standing ovations, “Chicago,” one of the world’s most famous musicals, is coming to Turkey for 13 shows at Istanbul’s TİM Maslak Show Center between Oct. 1 and 10.

The musical, which is based on a play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of alleged murderesses Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the daily Chicago Tribune, has been performed in 24 countries in 11 languages so far.

Istanbul’s TİM Show Center, which opened in November 2005, has been working to bring the musical to Turkey since then. The first mission was to find producers who would be sensitive to the stage and hall.

After producers visited the hall, some of the seats in the first three rows were removed while the stage was widened to 300 square meters to allow the audience to better appreciate the magnificence of the décor.

At the same time, sound and lighting systems were also improved after officials at the theater attended the Prolight & Sound Fair in Frankfurt to procure better equipment. The equipment for the orchestra, meanwhile, was also upgraded.

A 22-person cast, 15-person orchestra and 17-person technical team will come to the city for the show as well as three trucks of stage décor materials, sound-lighting materials and dresses. Meanwhile, for those who do not speak English, special equipment will be available to translate the lines.

[HH] Inspiration for ‘Chicago’

Annan, the model for the character of Roxie Hart, was 23 when she was accused of murdering Harry Kalstedt in March 1924. According to the Chicago Tribune, Annan played the foxtrot record “Hula Lou” over and over for two hours before calling her husband to say she killed a man who tried to make love to her. She was found not guilty on May 1924 and divorced her husband who did not leave her alone during the trial process.

The character Velma is based on Gaertner, who was a cabaret singer. The body of Walter Law was discovered slumped over the steering wheel of Gaertner's abandoned car in March 1924.

Two police officers testified that they had seen a woman getting into the car and shortly thereafter heard gunshots, while a bottle of gin and an automatic pistol were found on the floor of the car. Gaertner was acquitted in June of the same year.

Meanwhile, lawyers William Scott Stewart and W. W. O’Brien were models for a composite character in the play, Billy Flynn.

Watkins’ sensational columns documenting the trials became so popular that she decided to write a play based on them. The show received both popular and critical acclaim and even made it to Broadway in 1926, running for 172 performances.

In the 1960s, Broadway’s Tony-awarded actress Gwen Verdon read the play and asked her husband, director Bob Fosse, about the possibility of creating a musical adaptation.

Fosse approached playwright Watkins numerous times to buy the rights, but she repeatedly declined. Upon her death in 1969, her estate sold the rights to producer Richard Fryer, Verdon and Fosse. The duo of John Kander and Fred Ebb began work on the musical score, while Ebb and Fosse also penned the script for the musical, with Fosse directing the choreography.

The original Broadway production opened in June 1975 and ran for 936 performances. Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show.

As of January 12, 2010, the musical had played for more than 5,400 performances. An Academy Award-winning film version of the musical was released in 2002, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Queen Latifah.

Tickets for the Istanbul showings of “Chicago” are available at Biletix.



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