Our favourite theatre freelancer, Tayla Blaire, previews Showtime Management’s upcoming production of Chicago at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino. Read the Hot Honey Rag here!
Pop. Six. Squish.
In less than a year we will be in the 20s, and even with us having managed a hundred successful rotations around the sun, our obsession with the 1920s, the Jazz Age, the Flapper-era, will burn ever stronger. Luckily for us, Chicago is razzle-dazzling our theatres just in time.
This play is going nowhere, folks. And, from a socio-political perspective, it all adds up. After World War One eliminated a hefty portion of the male population, women were having a ‘moment’. They won the right to vote in 1920. They cut their hair. They showed their ankles, for crying out loud (the start of moral decay as we know it). They started making tracks in traditionally male-dominated fields…including the realm of murder. And they did it oh-so well. They did it so well that they came out of it as clean as the kitchens they were meant to be confined in. (Before he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times.)
Roxie and Velma use their sex appeal as a weapon to be wielded as they slide into role of the innocent hard-done-by beauty…who didn’t do it, but if she’d done it, could we tell them that they were wrong? Throughout the tumult of the play, it becomes apparent that neither of our heroines feel the slightest remorse for what they’ve done. The dweebs had it comin’. In fact, male portrayal in the story is limited to Billy Flynn (a sleazeball lawyer with morals as threadbare as fishnet stockings) and Amos Hart, who, bless him, literally sings a song in which he describes himself as cellophane. No, this is a story about women taking the reins and making it rain. They know what they want and it’s fame and fortune, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. And what’s even better is that they were REAL.
Reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins covered the 1924 trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune and wrote a play detailing the exploits of these “jazz babies” who laid all their sorrows squarely in the hands of “men and liquor” (Same). She described Beulah as the “beauty of the cell block” [TANGO!] and Belva as the “most stylish of Murderess Row.” The women were found not guilty and had the readership of Chicago’s seven daily papers every step of the way until their innocence rendered them pedestrian once more. Watkins’s play fell into the paws of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, and the rest, as they say, is jazz-hands-history.
Now we get to watch history in the making as Showtime Management in association with Barry and Fran Weissler, David Ian and Hazel Feldman present Chicago at the Pieter Toerien Theatre at Montecasino. With a combined South African and International creative team, the cast includes Carmen Pretorius (Sound of Music, Jersey Boys, Lien se Lankstaanskoene) as Roxy Hart, Samantha Peo (Cabaret, West Side Story, Strictly Come Dancing) as Velma Kelly, Ilse Klink (Mamma Mia!, Show Boat, Isidingo) as Mama Morton and Craig Urbani (Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Scandal) as Billy Flynn. Chicago will run from Saturday, April 20 to Sunday, May 26 2019.