CHICAGO—THE MUSICAL

February 18, 2017


Our youngest son and his wife gave us two tickets to the musical CHICAGO.   This was a Christmas present from them this past year.  The play was held in one of the most beautiful theaters in the south and certainly the most beautiful in the Chattanooga area.  Before we talk about the play, let’s take a quick look at the Tivoli Theater.

THE TIVOLI:

The Tivoli Theater is located at 709 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga and is definitely the focal point of the city.  The first digital shows the entrance and the marquee as you approach from Broad Street.

outside

The Tivoli was built between 1919 and 1921 at a cost of $750,000.  That was a huge sum of money in 1919.   It was designed by the famed Chicago-based architectural firm Rapp and Rapp and well-known Chattanooga architect Reuben H. Hunt.  It was constructed by the John Parks Company (general contractors) and was one of the first air-conditioned public buildings in the United States.  The theatre was named Tivoli after Tivoli, Italy.  It has cream tiles and beige terra-cotta bricks;  a large red, black, and white marquee with one thousand (1,000) chaser lights, with, as you can see, a large black neon sign that displays TIVOLI with still more chaser lights.

It is a well preserved and excellent example of the downtown Grand Palace Theater built throughout America in the 1920s. Not every town and city has a comparable theater so we are extremely lucky and very happy events such as CHICAGO still visit.   Its elaborate and exotic architectural and decorative detail, its conveniences, and luxurious materials combine to make theater going a complete social as well as entertainment phenomenon infrequently rivaled. Notable is its elaborate plaster work, rich colors and textures, marble, and theater organ. It was also among the first buildings in the United States to be air-conditioned.

Twenty-six hundred (2,600) yards of carpet for aisles, boxes, logs, approaches, mezzanine, stairs, and rest rooms. Electric fixtures for the entire house are plated with fourteen (14) karat gold, burnished, and ornamented with hand painted china. The balcony is supported by a five thousand five hundred (5,500) ton steel beam encased in concrete, and there are no columns or pillars. One million bricks were used in the construction of the balcony. The proscenium opening measures 48 x 26 feet and is the largest in the south. You may see the balcony design and structure as follows.

the-auditorium2

 

The lobby is noted for its marble floors, niches, tunnels, and promenades. The marquee extends the width of the building and has 15,000-watt capacity lamps, and on its underside, are a number of 75-watt day light globes. The outer lobby’s ceiling is the same height as the building, and is enriched with massive plaster designs in polychrome and antique with Chinese and cobalt blue, mulberry, green, and buff over aluminum leaf. There are sectional plate glass mirrors at each end to reflect the ceiling. On the left is a seven-foot fountain with running water and a figure of Cupid which is named “Cascatelle” for the river of many cataracts outside Tivoli, Italy. The floor is marble. It is lighted by a seven-foot hanging lantern in antique design. Glass doors lead to the inner lobby and the large plate glass window is hung with brilliant American Beauty plush draperies.

the-lobby

The grand staircase features ornamented bannisters of copper bronze surmounted by mahogany handrails.  Of course, the stairway leads to the balcony above.  You can see the auditorium and balcony, as pictured from the stage area in the digital below.

auditorium-from-the-stage

The mezzanine is the most beautiful section of the theater. It circles the auditorium and is the promenade. Its carpet is solid and it is furnished with chaise lounges and Adam designed chairs. It is known as “Villa D’Esta” after a famous villa at Tivoli, Italy. All openings are draped in silk with gold embroidery. The box seats are on either side of the auditorium and are truly beautiful.

box-seats

NOW THE MUSICAL:

My musical abilities are limited to playing the radio.  No piano, no guitar, no trumpet.  I can only listen, BUT I have an immense respect for talented individuals. Performers who can make a play, movie, musical come alive.  That is exactly what my wife and I saw last night during the CHICAGO performance.  I don’t know if you are familiar with the play but her are several specifics.

CHICAGO is a musical Vaudeville play that opened June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre.   It ran for 936 performances, closing on August 27, 1977.  The opening night cast starred Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly, Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart, Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn and Barney Martin as Amos Hart. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is 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 and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.” You may think this is somewhat heavy but it is hilarious and the music is phenomenal.  Several recognizable songs are:

  • “All That Jazz”
  • “Cell Block Tango”
  • “When You’re Good to Mama”
  • “Roxie”
  • “Mister Cellophane”
  • “Razzle Daxxle”
  • “Hot Honey Rag”

One definite reason we wanted to go—Eddy George played the part of Billie Flynn.  As you recall, Eddy George was a Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State in 1995 and played for the Tennessee Titans for several years.  HE WAS GOOD. I know it is difficult to go from the NFL to the stage but he really pulled it off.   ALL of the performers were absolutely excellent.  The rolls of Roxie and Velma were played by Dylis Croman and Lana Gordon.  Amos, the husband of Roxie was played by Paul Vogt and Mama was played by Roz Ryan.  Are you ready for this?  All of the ladies in the cast sang and danced in high-heels never missing a step. If you ever get an opportunity to attend the musical CHICAGO—take it.  You will come away realizing it was a wonderful experience.

Advertisements

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: