"Chicago" started out as a stage play back in the '20s before it became a world renowned musical and movie.
Did you know that musical (and movie) "Chicago" was based on real-life events? Did you know that the reporter covering the murders did so, as a school assignment? Okay, let's back up a bit. Back in the 1920s, budding playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins was studying Greek for her masters at Radcliffe and taking a playwrighting workshop run by George Pierce Baker at Harvard. Baker encouraged his students to get into the real world via journalism. Covering the news, he felt, would give them ample experience.
Watkins left massachusetts and worked for the Chicago Tribune. Lucky her! While living in the city, she covered the murder trials of Belvah Gaertner and Beulah Sheriff Annan. Both jazz babies were accused of murder, and both were aquited. When Watkins wrote about the women, she dubbed Gaertner, a cabaret singer as the "most stylish of Murderess Row." Annan, she stated in her articles covering the case, was the "Beauty of the cell block."
Via Gingold Group
Back at the playwrighting workshop in Harvard, Watkins got to work. Gaertner transformed into "Velma Kelly," and Annan became "Roxie Hart." The play was first The Brave Little Woman, then Chicago, or Play Ball and then back to Chicago. It opened up on Broadway in the winter of 1926. Watkins' play is snarky, dark and cheeky! Catch it live at Symphony Space (West 95th and Broadway) on Monday, July 23rd. Click here to buy tickets.