The long-gestating second national tour of Chicago will begin to strut its stuff beginning Dec. 12. Cities covered by the new tour will include Tampa, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, St. Louis, Dallas, and Los Angeles. However, according to spokesperson Anita Dloniak (reached Oct. 29), casting for the "Velma" Company (as the second company has been christened) has yet to be announced -- even though rehearsals are scheduled to begin at the end of next week.
One reason for the delay may be that the producers, Fran & Barry Weissler, are in London for the premiere of Chicago there -- their first overseas venture. The London cast features Ruthie Henshall (London's Crazy For You) as Roxie, Ute Lemper as Velma Kelly, and Nigel Planer (TV's "The Young Ones") as Amos. Henry Goodman (who has been quite busy of late -- earlier this year he was Nathan Detroit in the National's Guys & Dolls, and just a week ago he left the cast of the acclaimed West End production of Art), is Billy Flynn.
Chicago, which won the 1997 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical, began performances Oct. 28 at the Adelphi Theatre on London's West End, with an official opening slated for Nov. 18. Walter Bobbie, who won a Tony Award for his direction of the Broadway revival, also directed the London production.
As for the U.S. companies of Chicago, the Broadway revival continues at the Shubert Theatre with Marilu Henner, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton and Marcia Lewis. The smash $3 million Broadway revival of the Kander and Ebb musical has been a hot ticket since opening in the autumn, and has been selling out steadily since late Nov. 1996. This production of Chicago, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Anne Reinking ("in the style of Bob Fosse") originated as a four performance concert staging in May at City Center's Encores! Series devoted to classic musical scores. Neuwith and Naughton won Best Actress and Actor in a Musical Tony Awards for Chicago, and Reinking (who was replaced in the Broadway cast earlier this summer by Henner) won a Tony for Best Choreographer.
The 1st national tour (the "Roxie" Company) kicked off at Cincinnati's Aronoff Center Mar. 25 and stars Charlotte D'Amboise, Jasmine Guy and Obba Babatunde. .
Here are tour schedules for the "Roxie" and "Velma" companies. Dates are tentative and subject to change.
Atlanta - Fox - Oct 28-Nov. 2
Miami - Jackie Gleason - Nov. 4-9
Ft. Lauderdale - Broward Center - Nov. 11-23
Louisville - Kentucky Center - Nov. 25-30
Boston - - - Dec. 3-Feb. 15, 1998
Toronto - Princess of Wales - Feb 17-Apr. 25, 1998
Providence - Providence Performing Arts Center - Apr. 28-May 3, 1998
Cleveland - Palace - May 5-17, 1998
Denver - Buell - May 26-June 14, 1998
Seattle - Paramount - June 16-July 5, 1998
Ft. Myers - Barbara B. Mann - Dec. 12-14
Tampa - Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center - Dec. 16-28
Richmond - Carpenter Center - Dec. 31-Jan. 4, 1998
Pittsburgh - TBA - Jan. 6-18
Grand Rapids - Devos Hall - Jan 20-25
Nashville - Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Jan. 27-Feb. 1
Baltimore - Mechanic - Feb. 3-15
New Haven - Shubert - Feb. 17-Mar. 1
St. Louis - Fox - Mar. 3-8
Minneapolis - TBA - Mar. 10-29
New Orleans - Saenger - Mar. 31-Apr. 5
Dallas - TBA - Apr. 7-12
Tempe - Gammage - Apr. 14-19
Sacramento - TBA - Apr. 21-26
Los Angeles - Ahmanson - Apr. 28-July 5
Costa Mesa - Orange County Performing Arts Center - July 7-12
Chicago, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, was originally directed and choreographed on Broadway in 1975 by Bob Fosse; Fosse and Ebb co-wrote the show's book, which was based on a notorious Chicago murder trial in the Twenties.
For tickets for the London production of Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre, call 011-44-1-71-344-0055. For tickets to the Broadway Chicago call (212) 239-6200.