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‘Chicago’ tickets available Friday

Jan 28, 2013

KEOSAUQUA — Tickets for the Van Buren Players production of “Chicago” go on sale Friday through Community First Bank in Keosauqua.

This 50th anniversary production presents a unique opportunity for the Players production staff, cast and crew. As usual, more than 60 volunteers will work to bring the show to life. But this musical is especially ambitious, both for the difficult artistic challenge and for the still appropriate social messages concerning human nature, the media and abuse of the legal system the story offers.

“Chicago” is a musical which brings the city to life in 1924 when prohibition, gangsters and jazz all thrived. It tells the story of two accused murderesses: Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. Roxie guns down her lover and then cons her husband into paying for her lawyer. Velma, a vaudeville star, kills her husband in a  jealous fit of rage and then arranges future vaudeville bookings from jail. These murderesses become overnight celebrities.

Their story is based on two real-life murderesses: Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner and was covered  by Chicago Tribune reporter Maxine Watkins, who later wrote the stage play, “Chicago,” in 1926. Watkins attempted to expose how the celebrity culture had corrupted the newspaper business and the legal system.

Newspaper reporters turned the murderesses of Cook County Jail’s Murderess Row into celebrities.   All male juries in Cook County at the time proved incapable of convicting pretty women of murder, so these accused killers worked hard  getting dolled up for trial. Women’s clothing stores costumed them and lawyers fought to defend them and appear on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and Daily News. Accused killers became stars and most were acquitted.

Cecil B. DeMille produced a silent film version in 1927. A  movie starring Ginger Rogers was released in 1942. Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon created the musical stage version in the 1975, and Rob Marshall made it into the Oscar-winning movie starring Renee Zellweger,  Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah in 2002.

The Players production features Emily Roth as Roxie, Jessica Ehrenfelt as Velma, Tom Voorhees as Billy Flynn, Vicki Robertson as Mama Morton and Mike Plecker as Amos Hart.

Audiences might be familiar with numbers such as “All That Jazz,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” “Cell Block Tango,” “We Both Reached for the Gun,” “Me and My Baby,” “Mr. Cellophane” and “Razzle Dazzle.”

Parental discretion is advised for this musical since it involves adult language and situations.

Tickets may be obtained by calling the Community First Bank at 319-293-3794 or 888-226-5232.  Ticket prices are $7 for adults, $5 for 18 and younger and $6 for senior citizens at the matinee.  Performances are: at 7:30 p.m. March 1-2; and 2 p.m. March 3.

Performances are held in the Roberts Memorial Center in Keosauqua.

“Chicago” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc.

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