Vienna continues to be a top address in Europe when it comes to musicals.
The Vereinigten Buehnen Wien (United Stages of Vienna), whose audiences have seen the European premiere of Beauty and the Beast and the recently opened the Broadway-bound Dance of the Vampires among others, has acquired the rights to another smash hit.
After New York and London, Vienna will see the revival of Chicago, currently playing to sold-out houses on Broadway and in the West End. US-producers Fran and Barry Weissler have decided to bring the show to the Theater an der Wien, where it will play from Sept. 24 - Dec. 31, 1998. Afterwards, this production will go to Germany (no stage has been named yet).
Rudi Klausnitzer, artistic director of the VBW, said about his latest coup: "The Weisslers have seen most of our shows and have been highly impressed by their production values. They talked to me about Chicago for the first time in June, mentioning that they would want us to stage it before it plays Germany."
As in New York and London, Walter Bobbie will direct and Ann Reinking will recreate the dances based on Bob Fosse's choreography. Scenery and costumes will be the same as on Broadway. The German libretto will be the slightly modified one of the original production that played the Theater an der Wien in 1979 for 124 performances. Auditions will be held in Hamburg, Cologne and Vienna in January. The cast will be selected in March and April, rehearsals begin in the middle of July 1998.
Questioned by Playbill On-Line whether German actress Ute Lemper, currently Velma in the London production, could join the Viennese company, Klausnitzer said: "I have seen her at the premiere at the Adelphi theatre, but have not talked to her about our show. It is certainly an enthralling idea, but not a very probable one as the show has only recently opened in London."
Chicago, decorated with five Tony Awards on Broadway, should be the right show to fill the big shoes of the immensely popular Viennese musical Elisabeth, which closes at the Theater an der Wien April 25. Upon its closing, Elisabeth will have played for nearly six years and more than 1200 performances in Vienna, and also spawned productions in Japan, Hungary and Germany.