As of tomorrow, Chicago surpasses A Chorus Line for that illustrious theater-queen honor.
And the irony is that when the original production opened on Broadway in 1975, it did well, but was generally overshadowed by A Chorus Line, which copped the Tony, the Pulitzer, and just about everything else a musical could cop.
The dazzling A Chorus Line, you see, had heart by the mile. Chicago, a satire, refused to dabble in any such thing.
I adored both shows from the start, but always felt Chicago deserved equal praise for its wit, acidic commentary, boisterous humor, brilliant staging, and refusal to pander.
But it was very dark and so ahead of its time.
Instead of “What I Did For Love,” it had “Now no one even says ‘oops’ when they’re passing their gas.”
It wasn’t until the O.J. trial that the public got wise to the horror of celebrity justice, and in a sexier, pared-down revival that opened 15 years ago, the show really clicked — and still does, thanks to the bizarre genius of stunt casting, also helped by the fact that the 2002 film version made the property immortal.
For the record, the top three Broadway musicals are all British:
Phantom, Cats, and Les Miz.
Cheers to you, Bob Fosse, Kander & Ebb, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Jerry Orbach, Mary McCarty, Barney Martin, Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, and all the Chicago miracle workers.
Yes, even you, Christie Brinkley.