Ruthie Henshall as Roxie and Ute Lemper as Velma in Chicago

Ruthie Henshall as Roxie and Ute Lemper as Velma in Chicago

Chicago was first produced in 1975. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb tend to create their musical masterpieces from rather darker subject matter than is usual in musicals. Their 1966 Cabaret is set in a Berlin nightclub in the 1930s, against the background of Nazi oppression and violence. Kiss of the Spiderwoman is set in a South American prison. Chicago is set in a women's prison in the 1920s, the jazz age. It tells in song the story of the overlapping lives and trials of two showgirls Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, as the lawyer they both hire, Billy Flynn, tries to get them acquitted of murder. The choreography by Bob Fosse was an integral part of the show. His raunchy jazz style (first seen in The Pajama Game in 1954) marked a new departure in dance in musicals. It perfectly complemented the sometimes brash, sometimes sensual songs such as 'Razzle Dazzle' and 'All that Jazz';.