- This three-act comedy with a prologue by Maurine Dallas Watkins opened on 30 December 1926 for 172 performances at the Music Box Theatre. Watkins (1901-1969), a Chicago newspaperwoman and student of George Pierce Baker, imbued Chicago with a cynical, satiric flavor. Roxie, a flapper, murders her husband. With the assistance of a "sob sister" columnist and predatory lawyer, Roxie manages to manipulate her trial into a media carnival. She dreams of vaudeville success and, upon acquittal, embarks on a showbiz career. But Roxie's front-page celebrity instantly evaporates when a new murderess lures away her audience along with the reporters. Capturing Prohibition-era yellow journalism rampant in Chicago in the 1920s, Watkins's play has proven remarkably durable. Motion picture versions include a 1927 silent and the 1942 Roxie Hart starring Ginger Rogers. In 1975, John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical adaptation, Chicago, ran for 898 performances in New York and inspired a series of revivals beginning in 1996, leading to an Academy Award-winning 2002 film version.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.