The Stage Door produces the longest-running American Broadway musical for Southern Utah audiences

Production shot courtesy of The Stage Door, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Stage Door is bringing yet another hit Broadway musical to The Electric Theater this February. “Chicago” opened Feb. 14 and will run select nights through March 2.

Production shot courtesy of The Stage Door, St. George News

“Chicago” is the longest running American Broadway musical (the rank of longest running Broadway musical in general is still held by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”). The show is a Jazz-age musical based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice system and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.”

In the early 1920s, Chicago’s press and public became riveted by the subject of homicides committed by women. Several high-profile cases arose, which generally involved women killing their lovers or husbands.

These cases were tried against a backdrop of changing views of women in the Jazz age, and a long string of acquittals of women murderesses by Cook County juries, which at the time were all men, and convicted murderers generally faced death by hanging. A lore arose that, in Chicago, feminine or attractive women could not be convicted.

The Chicago Tribune generally took a pro-prosecution “hang-them-high” stance, while still presenting the details of these women’s lives. Its rivals at the Hearst papers were more pro-defendant and employed what were derisively called “sob-sisters” – women reporters who focused on the plight, attractiveness, redemption or grace of the women defendants. Regardless of stance, the press covered several of these women as celebrities.

The movie version of the play, also titled “Chicago,” was brought to the screen in 2002. The film stars Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere and won six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture – the first musical to win Best Picture since “Oliver!” in 1968.

The Stage Door production of “Chicago” is directed by Josh Scott, with choreography by Shellie Thomas, who was inspired by Bob Fosse’s work. According to a press release from the nonprofit theater company, the production is rich with a very talented cast of singers and dancers and features such hit numbers as “All That Jazz.”

“Chicago” will be presented at The Electric Theater at 68 E. Tabernacle in St. George on Thursday-Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. through March 2, with matinees on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $21 for adults, $18.50 for seniors, and can be purchased at The Stage Door website or 60 minutes before showtime at the door.

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