CHICAGO, one of the world’s most successful musical is now showing at Marina Bay Sands. I caught the media preview last Thursday and the characters totally remind me of the social media generation where bad behaviour is rewarded with more fame and fortune.
Based on real life events back in the roaring 1920s, nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoots her lover and along with cell block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, they fight to keep from death row with the help of smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn.
A lot of people may have seen the musical, but did not realise that the characters were based on real people.
The musical is based on a play of the same name by reporter and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins, who was assigned to cover the 1924 trials of accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune.
In the early 1920s, Chicago’s press and public became riveted by the subject of homicides committed by women. Several high-profile cases arose, which generally involved women killing their lovers or husbands. These cases were tried against a backdrop of changing views of women in the Jazz age, and a long string of acquittals by Cook County juries of women murderesses (jurors at the time were all men, and convicted murderers generally faced death by hanging).
A lore arose that, in Chicago, feminine or attractive women could not be convicted. The Chicago Tribune generally took a pro-prosecution “hang-them-high” stance, while still presenting the details of these women’s lives. Its rivals at the Hearst papers were more pro-defendant, and employed what were derisively called “sob-sisters” – women reporters who focused on the plight, attractiveness, redemption, or grace of the women defendants. Regardless of stance, the press covered several of these women as celebrities.
If the plot of trading bad social behaviour for fame and fortune sounds familiar. That’s because in this day and age, it draws parallel to many famous online influencers from bloggers to instagrammers to YouTubers who air their dirty laundry in public and benefit from the publicity.
Take the recent public and dramatic breakup of local YouTube couple, Ridhwan Aman and Nicole Choo for instance. Despite the bad publicity over the episode, the two of them will both gained more traffic, views and followers to their respective social media profiles. As web stats do not discern between hate and fan traffic, they will just keep becoming more ‘famous’ and benefit with more advertisements and endorsement deals.
While time has moved on, the same human desire for gossips and scandals have not changed. Like the Chicago Tribune in the 1920s, the media of today are doing the same, reporting on social media scandals to grab eyeballs. At the end of it all, it’s just giving the public what they want – which is more gutter journalism and fame for the media whores.
CHICAGO may be a musical written some time back, but the characters and tales are still relevant when applied to today’s context, making watching it all the more interesting.
Created by the musical theatre talents of John Kander, Fred Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, CHICAGO’s sexy, sassy score includes “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle”. With 6 Tony, 2 Olivier, 1 Grammy, 2 Bafta and 6 Academy Awards, CHICAGO truly is “The sharpest, slickest show on the block” – The Times.
A nightclub singer, a double-murderess, a smooth-talking lawyer and a cell block of sin: it would be a crime to miss it.
8 – 26 Feb 2017
Tue – Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm
(Excludes Booking Fee)
VIP Reserve: S$175
A Reserve: S$145
B Reserve: S$115
C Reserve: S$95
D Reserve: S$65
LANGUAGE & DURATION
Approximately 2 hours 20 minutes
(including 20 mins interval)