© 2005 by Chicago.

"Welcome. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery - all those things we all hold near and dear to our hearts. Thank you."

   So begins Chicago The Musical... and creators John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse never back off from their bold and sinister promise. The kiss-and-tell tale of Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who kills her lover; Velma Kelly the glamorous double-murderess vying to keep her press supremacy; and Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer who has the power to keep them from death row and make them in to stars.

   Lynda's stage roles hasn't been exactly prolific. With the exception of her school plays, she has only be seen on "THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES" back in 2002. But this time the London producers of the world-acclaimed musical gave Lynda such a great opportunity which undoubtedly adds prestige to her résumé.

   Chicago The Musical is based in the roaring 1920's with lots of hot jazz - and cold-blooded killers!... songs include 'All That Jazz', 'Funny Honey', 'Mr Cellophane', 'Nowadays' and 'Razz-

le Dazzle'. Lynda's role is that of Mama Morton and she sings such tunes as "Nobody's Got No Class" and "When You're Good To Mama, Mama's Good To You".

   Lynda signed for an 8-week season to play the role of jail-matron Mama Morton, the merciless jailer of Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly and the other bad-girls behind the bars in "CHICAGO".

   Beginning in September 26, Lynda replaces Zee Asha, and becomes the latest in a line of stars to join the cast of the musical which will celebrate its 8th anniversary on November 8. The role was also played by, among others, Alison Moyet on stage, and by Queen Latifah in the big-screen version, a role which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Lynda will be joined by Sally Ann Triplett as Roxie, Amra-Faye Wright as Velma, Terence Maynard as Billy Flynn, and  Victor McGuire as Amos Hart.


"Come on, Babe. Why don't we paint the town? And All That Jazz. I'm gonna rouge my knees. And roll my stockings down. And All That Jazz. Start the car. I know a whoopee spot. Where the gin is cold. But the piano's hot. It's just a noisy hall. Where there's a nightly brawl. And All That Jazz!"

Chicago is a musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb with book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Directed by Walter Bobbie with choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, scenic design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Rick Clarke.

   Based on an actual incident. The story of Chicago relates how sensational press coverage of the trial of Roxie Hart, who murdered her lover in 1920s Chicago, led to her acquittal and launched her on a show-business career. The Story of Chicago has had several incarnations, including a 1926 Broadway play by the reporter who covered the original trial and two film versions - one starring Ginger Rogers.

   The current production made its debut back in 1996 in Broadway and multiplied its success from Mexico to Buenos Aires, from Düsseldorf to London, from Amsterdam to Vienna, from Berlin to Lisbon, from Munich to Basel, from Sydney to Tokyo. The British version made its debut in London's West End at the Adelphi Theatre one year after the American version with equal success. The Broadway production won 6 1997 Tony Awards including 'Best Revival of a Musical', 'Best Lighting Design', 'Best Choreography' and 'Best Direction of a Musical'. Chicago has now been razzle-dazzling London audiences for almost eight years. Here's your chance to see stylish showmanship live on stage. In 1998, the musical won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production.

"As close to musical theatre heaven as you are likely to get" The News of The World

"The story of Velma and Roxie is a peg, in Walter Bobbie's dazzingly coherent production, for a series of vaudeville routines - songs, dances and wisecracks - presented in front of an on-stage band. It's a smart retort to the blockbuster musical. Sometimes the songs are as sparely focused as a concert performance. Sometimes the dance numbers are as raunchy as a floorshow. Either way, what Chicago describes is not a world but a process. And it does it in the language of cabaret - which brings on all those s-words: sassy, sexy, seductive, sensual, sinuous, sleazy, slinky, sophisticated and sultry... Chicago The Musical is an excellent night out." The Independent on Sunday

   "Chicago The Musical, a show about the corrupting power of publicity, has lived up to its own. This much-trumpeted and trumpeting show at the Adelphi is an almost seamless chain of brassy high spots... The first good decision of the director Waiter Bobble is to dispense with any attempt at naturalism. This is a song-and-dance show, not a musical play. The band is on stage, framed in a tilting golden rectangle" The Observer

   "This great production of a magnificent show brings the old razzle-dazzle back to the West End with a vengeance" The Daily Telegraph

   "The story is straightforward, improbable but acidly credible... Of course, Chicago is not a realistic musical in the sense that Oklahoma!, say, or Company are realistic musicals. No, this is a piece of hugely enjoyable fantasy send-up... Kander and Ebb show, and they play on, a disillusioned awareness of sleaze and dirty dealings in both high places arid low... You might begin to think that Kander and Ebb have simply loaded their work with 'Significance'. In actual fact, Chicago can make you think, and bitterly, but it is also hugely enjoyable: a showstopping show, a gaudy, glorious, glittering hit. One of the best things in it is Ann Reinking's superbly imaginative choreography." The Sunday Times

   "Chicago The Musical tells the story of Roxie Hart, who shoots her lover when he ditches her. It should have been curtains for Roxie, but she finds a shameless, flashy lawyer in the business of defending the indefensible or anything else - for a fat fee... The verdict on this show will, I suspect, he unanimous. Kill for a ticket. (There's bound to be a lawyer out there who'll get you off.)" The Mail on Sunday




As the OVERTURE ends, we're introduced to Velma Kelly -a vaudevillian who shot the other half of her sister act when she caught her husband with her sister. Velma invites us to sample ALL THAT JAZZ while showing us the story of chorus girl Roxie Hart's cold-blooded murder of nightclub regular Fred Casely. Roxie convinces her husband Amos that the victim was a burglar, and he cheerfully takes the rap.

   Roxie expresses her appreciation in song (FUNNY HONEY) until the police reveal to Amos that Roxie knew the burglar, shall we say, intimately, and Amos decides to let her swing for herself. Roxie's first taste of the criminal justice system is the women's block in Cook County Jail, inhabited by Velma and other merry murderesses (CELL BLOCK TANGO). The women's jail is presided over by Matron "Mama" Morton whose system of mutual aid (WHEN YOU'RE GOOD TO MOMMA) perfectly suits her clientele. She has helped Velma become the media's top murderer-of-the-week and is acting as booking agent for Velma's big return to vaudeville (after her acquittal, naturally.)

   Velma is not happy to see Roxie, who is stealing not only her limelight but her lawyer, Billy Flynn. Eagerly awaited by his all-girl clientele, Billy sings his anthem, complete with a chorus of fan-dancers to prove that (quote) (ALL I CARE ABOUT IS LOVE.) Billy takes Roxie's case and re-arranges her story for consumption by sympathetic tabloid columnist Mary Sunshine, who always tries to find A LITTLE BIT OF GOOD in everyone. Roxie's press conference turns into a ventriloquist act with Billy dictating a new version of the truth (WE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUN) while Roxie mouths the words. Roxie becomes the new toast of Chicago and Velma's headlines, trial date and career are left in the dust. Velma tries to talk Roxie into recreating the sister act (I CAN'T DO IT ALONE) but Roxie turns her down, only to find her own headlines replaced by the latest sordid crime of passion. Separately, Roxie and Velma realize there's no one they can count on but themselves (MY OWN BEST FRIEND), and the ever-resourceful Roxie decides that being pregnant in prison would put her back on the front page.

   Back after the ENTR'ACTE, Velma cannot believe Roxie's continual run of luck (I KNOW A GIRL) despite Roxie's obvious falsehoods (ME AND MY BABY). A little shy on the arithmetic, Amos proudly claims paternity, and still nobody notices him, MR. CELLOPHANE. Velma desperately tries to show Billy all the tricks she's got planned for her trial (WHEN VELMA TAKES THE STAND). Billy's forte may be showmanship (RAZZLE DAZZLE), but when he passes all Velma's ideas on to Roxie, down to the rhinestone shoe buckles, Mama and Velma lament the demise of CLASS. As promised, Billy gets Roxie her acquittal but, just as the verdict is given, some even more sensational crime pulls the pack of press bloodhounds away, and Roxie's fleeting celebrity is over. Left in the dust, she pulls herself up and extols the joys of life NOWADAYS. She teams up with Velma in that sister act (NOWADAYS), in which they dance their little hearts out (HOT HONEY RAG) 'til they are joined by the entire company for the grand FINALE.




Many of you are already familiar with the basic story of "Chicago" from the movie, but for those of you who aren't... In 1929, when Roxie Hart murders her lover for breaking up with her, she's sent to prison and learns how the system really works! The prison is run by Matron "Mama" Norton, and how you are treated there depends on how much you're willing to pay Mama to make your stay more comfortable. Mama is in cahoots with Billy Flynn, a highly successful but shady lawyer who, also for the right price -part of which goes to line Mama's pockets- will provide the best possible defence for your trial and won't let the truth stand in the way of that defence.

   Naturally, Roxie signs up for his services, but encounters a problem in the form of one Velma Kelly, another inmate who had been Billy's star project up until then. You see, Billy's strategy for court victory is to get his client's story into the tabloid newspapers in the most sensationalised format possible, thus getting the general public on their side in an attempt to sway court proceedings. Prior to Roxie's arrival, Velma had been the darling of the tabloid journalists, and was using the publicity as a springboard to a glittering musical career when she's ultimately cleared of the murder that she did, in fact, commit. Roxie decides that whatever Velma can do, she can do better, and the show focuses on the struggle between these two vicious opponents and their bid for freedom and stardom. Along the way, we meet several of the other inmates, as well as Amos Hart, Roxie's loyal doormat husband, and Mary Sunshine, a particularly gullible journalist who hides a secret of her own.

   "Chicago" is one of the most successful stage musicals of all time, and is THE longest-running US musical in the UK. Even if you'd never heard of the show, you're bound to be familiar with several of its numbers, such as "All That Jazz", "Razzle-Dazzle", "Funny Honey", "Mr. Cellophane", etc.  For some years now, the London production has featured several big names in various lead roles as part of an ongoing bid to hold on to their audience. November 18th marked the show's eighth anniversary in London's West End and, as anyone who pays any attention to this site already knows, starred Lynda Carter as Mama Norton. I was privileged to see that particular show in the second row from the stage, dead centre. There's been a certain amount of grumbling in the UK for a long time now that "Chicago" has lost a lot of its "oomph" and, having seen the show twice before (but not the movie, to which I wouldn't even try to compare a live show), I would have to agree with that sentiment, but only in relation to the supporting cast who, at times, seemed a little lack-lustre. All of the leads, as mentioned above, however, were simply superb (see full list below if you're interested) but I gotta tell ya, it was Lynda who "razzle-dazzled" me!

   I have to confess that I was a little dubious about her as a choice for Mama, based on previous Mamas who all seem to have been played by big ladies, so I didn't think she'd have the physical presence for the role. I was also a little worried that she hadn't sung on stage since her last Vegas shows in 1987 - the human voice, like any other musical instrument, needs to be used regularly to stay in tune. I was wrong to worry. Very wrong. Lynda's assertion that it would come back to her just like riding a bicycle was absolutely right. Not only does she give a fine performance, but she has a strong stage presence that compensates for her lack of physical stature.

   From the moment she steps onstage to sing her first number "When You're Good To Mama", you can see that she's comfortable and confident in a live environment, and it's obvious that she's having a whale of a time - she belts out the number with gusto! And she looks simply stunning! All of the cast are heavily made up. Big hair, big lips, big eyes, even big nails are the order of the day. On someone else, this could look like a drag queen gone wrong, but under the strong stage lights, Lynda looks even more beautiful than ever. Dressed in a tailored man's power suit worn over a lacy basque top, she really conveys the impression that this is one tough broad who let nothing stand in her rise to the top of the prison system, and was also not above using her womanly wiles to help her on her way!

   Her next number is a duet with Velma, "Class", which - despite singing along with someone else - really highlights how strong her singing voice still is. It's hard to say whether it was the contrast with Alma-Faye Wright, who plays Velma, or maybe it was because their voices complimented each other particularly well, or perhaps a bit of both, but here Lynda proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that she can more than hold her own with seasoned West End veterans. Just as her speaking voice has deepened over the years, so too has her singing voice and, although it's still as sweet and clear as ever, the deeper resonance gives her a more mature sound that is just right for the part of Mama.

   Sadly, those were her only two numbers, but she's onstage for much of the show, interacting with most of the other characters, and I was particularly impressed with her non-singing performance. From the above synopsis it's obvious that Mama is a rather evil character, at best amoral, but Lynda seems to bring much of her own personality to the role, making her Mama a sweeter and decidedly more compassionate one than previous incarnations. It works surprisingly well. In the only serious part of the story, one of the inmates is due to be hanged for murder. She has continuously protested her innocence, and Mama is starting to believe that maybe she is actually telling the truth. She appeals to Billy to get that inmate off the hook, but he is more interested in his current pet project, Roxie, and when the inmate is hanged, the sense of anguish and revulsion from Lynda as Mama is palpable. And, as further confirmation of the many stories about what a consummate professional Lynda really is, I watched her as she sat on the sidelines out of the spotlight, and she stayed in character throughout the entire show, reacting to everything that was happening centre-stage (unlike the supporting cast who sat there rather lifelessly), only coming out of character at the end of several numbers to make a clapping motion to encourage the aucience to applaud. Talk about a trooper!!

   "Chicago" is a thoroughly enjoyable musical in and of itself, but it was greatly enhanced by Lynda's presence throughout. One can only hope that, as a result, she will be offered more such work, and that she herself will consider it. I know that I, for one, will be in the front row cheering her on, regardless of where in the world it is staged. Congratulations, Lynda, you have once again done your fans proud!

Paul "Paraic" Kenny




Dates featuring Lynda Carter: September 26 through November 19, 2005.

Venue: Adelphi Theatre, The Strand WC2, London, UK.

Running time: 135 min.

Scheduled times: Mondays to Thursdays at 8.00pm, with Friday performances at 5.00pm and 8.30pm and Saturday performances at 3.00pm and 8.00pm.

Opening Night: November 18, 1997.

Booking until: February 25, 2006 [Remember Lynda is only playing for 8 weeks from September 26 through November 19].

Tickets Price: £17.50-£45.00, with special discounts for groups.

CAST: Sally Ann Triplett [Roxie Hart] | Amra Faye-Wright [Velma Kelly] | Terence Maynard [Billy Flynn] | Victor McGuire [Amos Hart] | LYNDA CARTER [Matron Mama Norton] | Alex Weatherhill [Mary Sunshine] | Verity Ventham [Swing] | Simon Breen [Sgt. Fogarty / The Judge] | Katy Carroll [Annie] | Kathryn Dunn [June] | Chris-Ellis Stanton [Aaron] | Shimi Goodman [Swing] | Steven Grace [The Jury] | Gavin Keenan [Swing] | Cameron Leigh [Hunyak] |  Ebony Molina [Go-To-Hell Kitty] | Kay Murphy [Liz] | Rachel Pressland [Swing] | Sergio Prettis [McVicars Announcer] | Sarah Soetaert [Mona] | Dean Street [Harry/Bailiff] | Nils Sundberg [Swing] | Scott Ryan Vickers [Martin Harrison] | Tobias Walbom [Fred Casely].

Production Credits: Music by: John Kander; Lyrics by: Fred Ebb; Book by: Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins; Director: Walter Bobbie; Producer: Billy Chicago Ltd. Production Designer: John Lee Beatty. Choreographer: Ann Reinking.


During mid-November, Sawnie Burgos O'Brien and Mark Meader, a.k.a. the Wonderland team, managed to save some shekels and were able to go to London to share a week with LYNDA CARTER and see her in the play “CHICAGO”, and believe us, it was worth every penny (or shekel!). Full with photos, audio and video CLICK HERE or on the image above for the full report about their week in London with Lynda Carter!!!