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Chicago – Differences Between the Movie and the Musical

You may think you’ve already seen Chicago if you’ve seen the film adaptation of the musical play starring Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones. Though the movie is certainly a bold and stylish tribute to Bob Fosse’s original vision, you are missing out by not experiencing Chicago in person.

What are the differences between the film and play? Bob Fosse’s direction and choreography is obviously felt to a greater extent in the play, as the movie is a loose interpretation by Rob Marshall, one more concerned with creating cinematic experience. Just play the DVD and note the stylish and visually dazzling rendition of the Cell Block Tango. Camera presence, lighting and close up focus shots are luxuries musicals cannot afford. Thus, musicals have to make up for it with superior, whole-stage choreography, and–if if we do say so ourselves–better singing and acting.

Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones are not professional singers or dancers, though they did adapt to Marshall’s vision very well, after presumably hundreds of takes. To experience Chicago in person is a delight–it’s a live theatrical performance and there are no other takes.

Speaking literally, the main difference between the film and live musical is the fact that Roxie Hart daydreams all of her success and musical performances in the movie, whereas in the play, it is actually “happening.” There are also many subtle differences in character casting, musical notes and lyrics in several key scenes, and the omission of some songs. For instance, there is a major plot twist involving reporter Mary Sunshine in the musical–not so in the film. In fact, film actress Christine Baranski does not sing as much as the musical actress cast, who has an entire number called “There’s a Little Bit of Good in Everyone.”

We must realize that comparing theater to movies is like apples and oranges, and it’s not really a fair comparison, comparing a musical phenomenon like Joel Grey (who played loser husband Amos in the original) with John C. Reilly who is an actor first, singer second.

The main reason to visit Chicago in person is to experience the “voice” of Fosse and friends Kander and Ebb! It’s time for more jazz and liquor in 2012, coming to a stage near you! Get your Chicago Musical tickets today!

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