Auditorium Theatre flashes back with free ‘Chicago’ screening

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To mark its 125th Anniversary, the Auditorium Theatre screens for free “Chicago,” the brash musical directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall. Alongside “Made in Chicago” music and dance series at the historic theater, the lineup includes this movie set in Chicago and shot in Toronto.For “Chicago —A Movie Sing-A-Long & Costume Party,” the doors at 50 E. Congress open at 6 p.m. Friday with a speakeasy-themed cash bar in the lobby. Order a Gin Zaza, Brandy Old Fashioned or another Prohibition-period cocktail. The film starts at 7 in the storied Sollitt Stage, with 11 Merry Murderess Dancers from the Chicago Academy of the Performing Arts making appearances in the aisles.The Auditorium cues its come-on to Halloween: Don a costume circa the Roaring ’20s. Colleen Atwood won an Oscar for her “Chicago” costume designs, and your “Chicago”-style get-up could win you an award (free tickets to performances in Auditorium Theatre’s 125th Anniversary season).Where did the 2002 film that won six Oscars come from? It all started with Chicago Tribune headline on April 4, 1924: “Woman Plays Jazz Air as Victim Dies.” Maurine Watkins covered the trial of that murderess, as well as the Leopold and Loeb trial. She also reviewed several films, including “Manhandled,” Marriage Cheat” and “Unguarded Women.”Watkins moved east and penned a Broadway play in 1926. Before deciding on “Chicago,” she wrote drafts with the titles ”The Brave Little Woman,” “Getting Away With Murder,”“The Jazz Slayer,”“Play Ball“ and“The Press Presents.”She satirizes the taste of the press and the public for crime celebrities. Exploiting murderesses for entertainment is a cynical errand —for reporters, playwrights and filmmakers alike.The 1927 film adaptation disappointed a pseudonymous movie reviewer at the Tribune. “Mae Tinee” preferred “the clever, satiric, diabolically human, uproariously funny play,” which a Yale Divinity prof once damned as “vile, immoral, and blasphemous.”Next came the 1942 film titled “Roxie Hart.” And then the 1975 Broadway musical titled “Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville.”Marshall opens his “Chicago” with an extreme close-up of one pre-op eye of Renée Zellweger playing Roxie Hart.That’s supposed to let us know that all the musical numbers are from her point of view.

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