Get ready for some Hollywood "Razzle Dazzle." It may have been a particularly long road from stage to screen, but Kander and Ebb's classic musical Chicago is set for a Christmas 2002 release.
Featuring a star-studded cast led by Renee Zellweger (Roxie Hart), Catherine Zeta-James (Velma Kelly) and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn), the A-list company also includes John C. Reilly (Amos Hart), Dominic West (Fred Caseley), Christine Baranski (Mary Sunshine), Queen Latifah (Mama Morton) as well as Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, Lucy Liu, Mya, Mark Calamia, Deidre Goodwin, Sebastian La Cause, Mary Ann Lamb and a cameo from original Chicago star Chita Rivera.
Rob Marshall, the choreographer of Broadway's Kiss of the Spider Woman and the revivals of Damn Yankees, She Loves Me, Cabaret and Little Me, directs the $45 million film, his motion-picture debut. Marshall did, however, direct the recent, acclaimed television production of "Annie," which featured Alan Cumming, Kathy Bates and Kristin Chenoweth. Bill Condon has written the Chicago screenplay for Miramax Studios, and the film's cinematographer is Dion Beebe. The Tony-winning lighting team of Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer are the movie's lighting designers.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marshall explains the genesis of his involvement with the project: "After the success of 'Annie,' I went to meet with Miramax on Rent, and I said, 'before we do that, can I just talk about 'Chicago'? When they heard my concept, they took me in to see Harvey [Weinstein], and he said, 'You're the smartest guy who's walked in here in years.' 'Chicago' has been a passionate project of Harvey's for so long. He only had six months left on his option when I came in. Larry Gelbart's a hero, too—he had written an earlier script. I saw him at the Kennedy Center Honors and explained my vision, and he called Marty Richards, the original Broadway producer, and said I should do it."
John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical, which features such songs as "All That Jazz," "Mister Cellophane," "Class" and "Nowadays," debuted on Broadway in June 1975 with choreography by the late Bob Fosse and a cast led by Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach. The Tony-winning revival opened in Nov. 1996 with Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Joel Grey and James Naughton in the lead roles. Featuring direction by Walter Bobbie and choreography by Reinking "in the style of Bob Fosse," the musical satire continues to thrill audiences at the Shubert Theatre. The long-awaited film is scheduled for release on December 25.