Billboard on Broadway Podcast: 'Chicago' Cast on Keeping All That Jazz Alive
Kander & Ebb’s Chicago is one of the longest-running musicals ever on Broadway -- the present production is celebrating its 20th anniversary -- but as its current stars discuss on the Billboard on Broadway podcast, its continually refreshed cast and ever-timely subject matter still make it feel fresh nightly.
“Unfortunately it’s still relevant,” says Raymond Bokhour (Amos) of the show’s plot following two murderesses and their quest for more than fifteen minutes of fame. “I wish it wasn’t! But there’s a lot to be said for the prescience of the writers. When this particular revival came around, the OJ trial was still on everyone’s minds, and this whole notion of spinning things -- that people can get away with murder and simply lie about it -- is still a story that needs to be told.”
Aside from the show’s more serious themes, all the cast members present -- including Charlotte d’Amboise (Roxie Hart), Lana Gordon (Velma Kelly) and NaTasha Yvette Williams (Mama Morton) -- agree that the show’s very modern look and sound have given it longevity. “There’s cute girls and guys; everybody’s sexy; it’s fantastic music,” d’Amboise says. “It’s a great story that’s streamlined, with no fat on it, beautifully told.”
Chicago is fairly unique among Broadway shows thanks to the vast number of actors who have cycled in and out of roles over the years, and the cast discuss how that keeps the show evolving. “I think anytime you’re able to follow someone or pattern yourself after anything, you have the responsibility to take what they did and grow it,” Williams says. “Once you get into the family, it’s a revolving door,” d’Amboise says. “It’s kind of fantastic…to be able to come back and do it years later, when you’ve changed as a person. You don’t get that chance with other shows much.”
The show’s strongly feminist bent (“The women get the final bow!” d’Amboise says), dark sensibility, and relationship with pop stars coming to Broadway over the years all come up as well in the cast’s chat with host Rebecca Milzoff.