Mainstage Center for the Arts Announces CHICAGO: The High School Ed.

Mainstage Center for the Arts is excited to announce Chicago: High School Edition, running November 16th and 17th.

Chicago: High School Edition has music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The musical is based off a 1926 play of the same name written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a reporter who wrote about actual criminals and crimes she reported.

When the original play was written, Watkins was covering the trials for accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune. At the time, the Chicago public was enamored with the subject of homicides committed by women. Many high-profile cases arose that involved women murdering their husbands. With these cases, people developed the theory that attractive women could not be convicted by a jury of men. Thus, the story of Chicago was born.

Watkin’s play ran on Broadway in 1926 for 172 performances and was later developed into two movies: a silent film titled Chicago in 1927 and Roxie Hart in 1942 starring Ginger Rogers. Fosse approached Watkins in the 1960s to make it into a musical but Watkins, a born-again Christian, did not want her play glamorizing a scandalous way of living to be adapted.

Fosse, Vernon, and Fryer finally began working on the Chicago musical adaption after Watkins died in 1969 and her estate sold them the rights.

Like the play, the musical is a satire piece about corruption in the in the administration of criminal justice and the idea of a “celebrity criminal.” America has had its share of “celebrity criminals” over the years, including Bonnie and Clyde, Billy the Kid, and Al Capone.

The original Broadway production opened in 1975 and ran until 1977 for a total of 936 performances. The revival opened in 1996 and still runs today, making it the longest-running revival and the second longest-running Broadway show, only behind Phantom of the Opera.

Fans of Chicago should not fret over the “high school” label. The themes and story of the show remain the same. This version of the show simply removes the adult language, overly sexual references, and the songs “Class” and “A Bit of Good.”. These changes make the show accessible to wider audiences and allow teens the experience of performing in Chicago.