Chicago Musical vs Movie

The Broadway and West End Musical ‘Chicago’ has been running since 1997. Numerous UK and US tours, as well as New York and London productions and shows in countries such as China, Hungary and Germany have added to its success around the world. Thanks to the 2002 Miramax film the show became a household name, winning the first Best Picture Oscar for a musical since 1964. Many fans of the show love the film, and others come to see the show live after enjoying the film so much. We wondered which would fair better across a number of different categories and put the two head to head.

Chicago Musical Chicago Movie
The Songs Whilst both the stage show and movie use many of the same songs, written by Broadway legends John Kander and Fredd Ebb, only the stage show features the full score. Songs such as ‘I am My Own Best Friend’ the Bossa Nova duet for Roxie and Velma, the chirpy ‘Me and My Baby’, ‘When Velma Takes the Stand’, ‘I Know a Girl’ and ‘ A Little Bit of Good’ were all cut to save time on screen. The Act 2 duet ‘Class’ between Velma and Mama Morton was filmed and later cut, so versions do exist as part of the film’s extended footage. On stage a live band perform the full score and in true vaudeville style each act is welcomed to the stage – definitely not to be missed! The movie takes certain liberties with the score which is understandable due to the time restrictions involved on screen. Most of the bigger numbers survived and were delivered with immaculate new orchestrations. Danny Elfman provided additional music such as ‘Chicago After Midnight’ which helped create the atmosphere of the time and period. A new song ‘I Move On’ was added over the final credits and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Sex Appeal The musical oozes with sex appeal from every single member of the small ensemble. Both the men and women are scantily clad, displaying impressive bodies and some of the longest legs on the West End stage. The whole show uses black and white as a central motif with added dashes of colour for key moments, but the production is slick, sensual and downright sexy. Over the years marketing campaigns have included stars from the show on huge billboards or sprawled across London buses, using the sex appeal to keep the show running year upon year. The movie extends the sex appeal from the stage using some of the hottest cast ever thrown together behind a camera. From Catherine Zeta Jones to Rene Zellwegger and Richard Gere, the movie defines what it was to be sexy in the Windy City. Sultry dance routines such as the Cell Block Tango cram the screen with beautiful dancers, you won’t know where to look. Be warned, a few scenes are a little bit racy!
Cast Throughout the show’s 15 years in the West End a whole host of stars have taken on many of the iconic roles. From celebrities such as Kelly Osbourne to Jerry Springer, from Denise van Outen to Marti Pellow – the show is kept alive by the cast it manages to attract. A number of legit musical theatre performers have also tread the boards such as Ute Lempur and Ruthie Henshall in the original cast, to Bonnie Langford and Darius Campbell, giving the show a wide range of appeal. Reality TV stars have sadly used it to cross the border into theatre, for which the show did loose a certain amount of credibility. A mixed bag of acting talent cemented the familiar roles, with each of them clocking up a shelf full of Golden Globes, Oscars, and BAFTAs for their time. Some eyebrows were raised at the initial casting, but all leads pull off their roles well. John C Reilly played an innocent Amos Hart alongside Zellwegger’s charming Roxy, and Catherine Zeta Jones was awarded with the film industry’s highest honour for her contribution. Cameos from Lucy Lui, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs and Queen Latifah all helped the film to display some amazing on screen talent.
The Experience Nothing can beat live theatre in any form, and seeing the musical live on stage is usually the most pleasing way to see it. Bob Fosse’s immortal style is captured on stage as the vaudeville style is expertly executed. After flopping on Broadway in its initial run, the 1997 revival (which is currently running in both the West End and Broadway) is sheer theatrical gold. Chicago the movie allowed many people to experience their first big musical on screen. After an absence of the genre from all major studios, this was a major risk that paid off. The film stands alone as a fine example of a fantastic movie and also does justice to the source material.
OVERALL The show continues to pack a punch, but after the big screen adaptation, it can look a little tired. Depending on the cast the show can vary in quality, and when a legitimate performer is in the show it is certainly worth seeing. The fact that the film was the first musical to win the Oscar for Best Picture (2002) since Oliver in 1969 proves that it was a certified hit. It reinvented the film industry’s interest in the movie musical and made household names of its stars. The soundtrack sold millions of copies worldwide, and the stage show flourish because of its success.

So it seems that both the show and the film have their advantages and disadvantages – either way it is fantastic to see Chicago in any form. Be sure to share your views below…which do you prefer?? Check out the official Chicago worldwide website which has details of the show all around the world.

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