Will the film of Kander and Ebb's Chicago have "Class"? That seems to be the question brewing among the powers-that-be at Miramax, the film studio that will release the long-awaited film on Dec. 27.
Liz Smith reports that the song "Class" — a duet between Matron "Mama" Morton and Velma Kelly — may not make the final cut of the film, which is being directed by Broadway's Rob Marshall. Smith writes, "Sometimes when they show the film ['Class'] is in; sometimes it's out. I hear that the producer, Marty Richards, is insisting it stay in. Bravo, Marty! It would be awfully no-class if Queen Latifah and this very funny, vulgar Kander and Ebb song gets short shrift." Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones play, respectively, Mama Morton and Velma.
Featuring a star-studded cast led by Renée Zellweger (Roxie Hart), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma Kelly) and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn), the "Chicago" 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. 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.
John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical, which features such songs as "All That Jazz," "Mister Cellophane," 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. Chicago moves to the Ambassador Theatre Jan. 29, 2003.