Ah, Chicago. One of the greatest stage-to-film adaptations ever made, this Kander and Ebb musical has been playing nonstop on Broadway since the 1990s. Bringing it to the big screen was a considerably daunting task, but director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon pulled it off…and then some. The movie was released just after Christmas of 2002 and proceeded to snag six Oscars, including Best Picture. In celebration of Chicago’s impending 15th anniversary, I’m going to share seven fun facts about this “razzle-dazzle” film that you might not have known.
- Richard Gere was not the first choice for Billy Flynn. Weird but true! The producers originally considered John Travolta for the part.
- The original Velma Kelly, Chita Rivera, appears in the movie. The legendary Broadway dancer can be seen greeting Roxie (and smoking a cigarette) when the latter first arrives at the Cook County Jail.
- The director and screenwriter were later involved in two other major musical films. Rob Marshall directed 2009’s Nine, while Bill Condon did the screenplay for 2006’s Dreamgirls!
- Christine Baranski could never play Mary Sunshine on Broadway. Although Baranski is a veteran stage actress, she couldn’t actually play Mary Sunshine because (on Broadway) the role was written for a man!
- Lucy Liu wasn’t supposed to play Go-to-Hell-Kitty. They actually had pop diva Britney Spears tapped for this cameo role!
- The song “Class” was shot for the movie, but ended up on the cutting room floor. You can still watch the scene on the DVD as a bonus feature.
- Of the three main actors, only one has played a leading role on Broadway. That’s Catherine Zeta-Jones, who not only won her Academy Award for Chicago but took home a Tony Award for her performance in A Little Night Music.