At the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio, we love watching fantastic musicals. You may be familiar with one of our all-time favorite productions, Chicago, which was made into a 2002 feature film starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger.

During its first year, the Broadway musical received mixed reviews. However, the following year, it received a variety of Tony nominations, although it didn’t actually win anything. Not only did Fosse direct and choreograph the original production, he wrote the book as well. What are the origins of this musical?

Based on a Real Murder Trial

In 1924, a laundress and a cabaret singer in Chicago were both accused of allegedly killing their lovers under the influence of “gin and guns.” Singer Belva Gaertner went to trial for fatally shooting her boyfriend in a car and leaving him with a gun and a bottle of gin to take with him into the afterlife. This fascinating lady would later inspire the character of Velma Kelly.

Just a month later, Beulah Annan was arrested for fatally shooting her lover in the comfort of her own home, inspiring the character of Roxie Hart. In an effort to not get the death penalty, Annan announced that she was pregnant, just like Roxie Hart. Although Annan did not receive the death penalty, she never actually gave birth. Hmm.

Catherine Zeta-Jones

When approached for the role of Velma Kelly in the film adaptation of Chicago, Zeta-Jones was unfamiliar with the musical. However, once she found out that the number “All That Jazz” was in the film, she wanted to play the character performing that song. Her wish was granted, and she performed the ditty with gusto.

Beyonce Wanted to Play Mama

Both Beyonce and her manager pleaded for the role of Mama Morton, the head of the prison. In fact, she wanted the role so badly that she offered to take a pay cut. Unfortunately, the producers thought she wasn’t old enough for the role, which went to Queen Latifah instead.

John Travolta Was The First Pick As Billy Flynn

Film producers originally wanted John Travolta to play the part of smarmy lawyer Billy Flynn, but he turned down the role. It would have been amazing to see what he would have done with the part, but Richard Gere accepted the role instead.

Hugh Jackman Also Turned Down the Role

Best known for playing his character Wolverine in a variety of X-Men movies, Hugh Jackman also has a background performing in a variety of different musical theater productions. Although he was also offered the role of Bill Flynn, he turned it down because he believed that he was too young. To this day, he still regrets his decision.

Would you like to incorporate some Chicago-worthy dance moves into your repertoire? Sign up for our adult dance classes at the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio in Woodbridge. Not only will you burn a ton of calories, you’ll have so much fun you won’t even know that you were working out. Our friendly and encouraging atmosphere is perfect for newbies and more seasoned ballroom dancers alike. Contact our studio to begin taking ballroom dance classes today.