In 1975, the Broadway musical Chicago brought together a host of memes and myths - the gleefully subversive character of American musical comedy, the reckless glamor of the big-city newspaper, the mad decade of the 1920s, the work of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon (two of the greatest talents in the musical's history), and the Wild West gangsterville that was the city of Chicago itself.
The tale of a young woman who murders her departing lover and then tricks the jury into letting her off, Chicago seemed too blunt and cynical at first. Everyone agreed it was show biz at its brilliant best, yet the public still preferred A Chorus Line, with its cast of innocents and sentimental feeling. Nevertheless, the 1996 Chicago revival is now the longest-running American musical in history, and the movie version won the Best Picture Oscar.
As author Ethan Mordden looks back at Chicago's various moving parts - including the original 1926 play that started it all, a sexy silent film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, a talkie remake with Ginger Rogers, the musical itself, and at last the movie of the musical we see how the American theatre serves as a kind of alternative news medium, a town crier warning the public about the racy, devious interior contradictions of American society. Opinionated, witty, and rich in backstage
anecdotes, All That Jazz brings the American Musical to life in all its artistry and excitement.
Ethan Mordden is a recognized expert on American musical theatre and the author of When Broadway Went to Hollywood, Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre, Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s, Beautiful Mornin: The Broadway Musical in the 1940s, Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s and Sondheim: An Opinionated Guide, all published by Oxford University Press. His writing has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New Yorker. His numerous books include friendly introductions to opera and film, as well as five collections of short stories chronicling gay life in New York City. He lives in Manhattan.
Introduction 1. The City: Unregulated Capitalism 2. The Era: "Be Nonchalant... Light a Murad" 3. The Play: "Like Hell You're Through!" 4. The First Movie: Amos Is The Hero 5. The Invention of the Satiric Musical: "How Can You Tell An American?" 6. The Second Movie: "I'm Going To Make A Character Man Of You If You Don't Behave Yourself" 7. Fosse & Verdon and Kander & Ebb: "You Have To Act Your Dancing" 8. The Musical: "No Show is Worth Dying For" 9. The Revival and the Third Movie: "If It Doesn't Fit, You Must Acquit!" For Further Reading A Selective Discography