Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 4:26 pm | Fair 62º


National Tour of ‘Chicago’ to Blow Through Santa Barbara

The hit Broadway musical comes to the Arlington Theatre for a one-night stand Saturday.

The national tour of the hit Broadway musical Chicago is coming to the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara for a raucous one-night stand at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The tour, like all of its predecessors, is based on the 1996 revival production of the musical, rather than on the original production of 1975. The 1975 production did pretty well, at 936 performances, but the 1996 production holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on Broadway — as of March 2, a staggering total of 4,684 performances.

Chicago the musical, created by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about two sensational murder trials, of Beulah Annan (model for the character Roxie Hart) and Belva Gaertner (model for Velma Kelly), which she had reported on for the Chicago Tribune. Watkins wrote herself into the play, under the name “Mary Sunshine.”

The play did well. The U.S. public in the 1920s had a boundless appetite for murderesses, and most of them got away with it. As Watkins was writing about Annan and Gaertner in the windy city, Edmund Wilson and others were writing about Drothy Perkins in New York. Chicago was made into a silent film in 1927, then into a talkie in 1942, Roxie Hart, with Ginger Rodgers.

Sometime in the late 1950s to early 1960s, the famous stage actress Gwen Verdon read the original play and asked her husband, Fosse, if there might be a musical in there. Fosse thought there was, and tried to get Watkins to sell the rights. She refused. When she died in 1969, Watkins, it turned out, had left instructions that the rights to Chicago be sold to Verdon and Fosse.

Fosse teamed up with Kander and Ebb, who began work on the score, modeling each number on a traditional vaudeville number or a vaudeville performer.

This format made explicit the show’s comparison between justice, show business and contemporary society. Ebb and Fosse wrote the “book” of the musical; Fosse directed and choreographed. The show opened June 3, 1975, which happened to coincide with the opening run of another musical, A Chorus Line, which swept the awards categories and drew bigger audiences. Nothing remotely competitive was on the horizon in 1996. Chicago had the field to itself.

For tickets, call the Arlington box office at 805.963.4408) or visit www.ticketmaster.com.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.