Justin Timberlake Joins Exclusive Club

Justin Timberlake Joins Exclusive Club

Justin Timberlake Tickets

Justin Timberlake joined an exclusive club in 2013.  This club has nothing to do with making bad movies (Runner, Runner) or hosting a television show (Saturday Night Live) or selling a bunch of Justin Timberlake tickets (he toured with Jay-Z and by himself in 2013).  Timberlake joined the very exclusive club of having two number one albums in the same calendar year.  His 20/20 Experience went to number one on April 6 (stayed there for three weeks) and his follow-up, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, claimed the top spot on the Billboard 200 on October 19.

You’ll hear lots of cuts from both of those top albums during Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience World Tour.”  In 2014, Justin Timberlake is in Toronto on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14; Justin Timberlake performs in Chicago on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17; Justin Timberlake visits New York City on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20; and Justin Timberlake has a show in Philadelphia on Feb. 25.  The final date of his first North American leg is March 5.  On that night, Justin Timberlake takes the stage in Miami.  The singer has nearly 30 dates planned for Europe before returning to North America in July for 15 more concerts, including a Justin Timberlake show in Boston.

Below is a list of other acts that have had two number one albums in the same calendar year.  Membership to this club comes with several caveats.  One, it starts in 1970.  Artists released albums at a quicker pace in the 1960s and 1950s so we skipped those decades.  Two, we didn’t count soundtracks unless the artist was responsible for the entire soundtrack.  We did count greatest hits collections, live albums, holiday LPs, and remix collections.  Remember, it’s not two different number one albums in a 12-month period but two different number one albums in the same calendar year.

Elton John
Elton John founded the club in 1973 when Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player went to number one in March and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road went to number one in November.  He did it again in 1974 with Caribou and Elton John’s Greatest Hits.  The Rocket Man didn’t stop there.  His Greatest Hits collection held the top stop into February of 1975.  So do we count that for both 1974 and 1975?  It doesn’t matter because later in the year John released Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and Rock of Westies.  Both went to the proverbial mountain top.  To recap, John had two number one albums in ’73, ’74, and ’75.  If you count the overlap of his Greatest Hits then he had three in 1975.  

Chicago
The year 1975 was a big one for the “Two Number One Albums In The Same Year Club.”  Not only did John solidify his place in its hallowed halls, but he got some company.  Chicago scored a number one in May with Chicago VIII.  Then they scored another number one in December with Chicago IX – Chicago’s Greatest Hits.

Prince
Prince didn’t need the entire year to rack up two number ones.  He needed just six months.  Purple Rain was the first number one album of 1985.   His Around the World In A Day reached the ultimate position on the Billboard 200 on June 1.

Bruce Springsteen
There were just nine number one albums in 1987 and Bruce Springsteen had two of them.  Live/1975–85 was number one for the first two weeks of the year.  Then in November, sandwiched between Michael Jackson’s Bad and The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love topped the chart for a week.

Garth Brooks
In 1992, Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus each held the foremost station on the main album log for 17 weeks.  Cyrus’ 17 weeks were consecutive and all for one album, Some Gave All.  Brooks’ 17 weeks were scattered throughout the year and split between Ropin’ the Wind and The Chase.  Fast forward to 1998,   Brooks starts a new club when he has three different albums go to number one: Sevens (January), The Limited Series (May), and Double Live (December).

The Beatles
The Beatles had four number one albums in 1964 and two each in 1965, 1966, and 1967, but like we said the industry was different then.  In 1996, 35 years after splitting up, the Fab Four reached the promise land again… and again.  Anthology 2 captured the top spot in April and Anthology 3 reached the charts’ acme in November. A quick note, in 1973 The Beatles’ greatest hits collection, 1967-1970, summited the Billboard 200.  It was followed by Red Rose Speedway by Paul McCartney and Wings.  That was followed by George Harrison’s Living in the Material World.

Jay-Z
No male artist has had more number one albums than Jay-Z.  So it’s fitting that he made this list.  In fact, he made it twice.  In 2000, he did it all by himself reaching number one with both Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter and The Dynasty: Roc La Familia.  Four years later, he did the double again but this time with some help.  R. Kelly and Jay-Z reached the pinnacle with Unfinished Business.  Five weeks after that, Jay-Z was back on top thanks Collision Course, an EP he made with Linkin Park.

Eminem
Eminem joined this exclusive club in 2005.  His Encore was second to none for two weeks in January.  Then from Christmas Eve to the end of the year, his Curtain Call: The Hits was the top opus in all the land.

Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle is the most unlikely member of this elite guild.   In 2010, she started and ended the year at number one.  I Dream A Dream was number one for the year’s first three weeks and her The Gift was número uno for the last two weeks of the year.

Glee
You tell us if this counts.  In the spring of 2010, the cast of Glee saw three of their albums maneuver to the uppermost locus on Billboard’s main album chart: Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna; Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers; and Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals.  They’re not really a band but a number one album is a number one album.

Justin Bieber
They’re not exactly new studio releases but like we said before they count.  In early March of 2011, Biebs’ Never Say Never – The Remixes was chief among all releases.  Justin Bieber returned to the apex for one more week in November thanks to his dubious Christmas record Under the Mistletoe.

One Direction
Boy band extraordinaire One Direction crashed the party in 2012.  Up All Night and Take Me Home spent one week each at number one.  Counting Justin Timberlake, the club has grown each of the past four years.  It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.  In the 1970s and 1980s, artist stayed at number one for weeks.  Nowadays, there’s a new number one every seven days.  With so many number one albums floating around it should be easier to land two in the same calendar year.

By David B.

Boston Celtics In Rebuilding Mode For 2013-2014 Season

Boston Celtics In Rebuilding Mode For 2013-2014 Season

Boston Celtics Tickets

The Boston Celtics walked off the court this past Saturday feeling real low.  They had just fallen to the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-88 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.  The C’s managed just 38 points in the second half.  Their number one offensive option, Jeff Green, was 0-for-6 from the field, substitute Jared Sullinger finished with a minus 27, and the starting five committed a combined 16 turnovers.

Is that game an anomaly or par for the course for the 2013-2014 Boston Celtics?  Unfortunately for Celtics fan there will be far more games like the Celtics had against the T-Wolves then there will be games like they had against the defending champs.  On Nov. 9, the Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 111-110.

I hate to say it fans, but the Celtics are in rebuilding mode *gasp!* 

It’s funny how fans of teams like the Celtics cry and moan when their team goes into rebuilding mode.  I jump up and down in glee when I learn that my team is going into rebuilding mode.  It means they’re going to get better (or at least they’re going to try).  Hey, “rebuilding” sure beats another season of status quo.  I guess you don’t look at it that way when you’re used to your team being a perennial contender.

The good news about the Celtics being in rebuilding mode is it shouldn’t last long.  The team is poised to be back in the playoffs in a few years and competing for a title not long after that.  The process might be expedited if a few ping pong balls fall their way, some teams get desperate come the trade deadline, and their new head coach pans out.

Yes, the 2013-2014 NBA season will be a long one for fans with Boston Celtics tickets but after this campaign things should start looking up.  So how down will the Celtics get?  I predict they’ll finish the season with 30 or so wins (they started 4-7).  Even if the Celtics win just 35 percent of their games, that doesn’t mean there won’t be things to root for and players to cheer on.  In fact, this could be a very busy year for the 17-time champions.

Key Celtics Home Games
>>Nov. 22 – Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers
>>Dec. 11 – Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers
>>Jan. 17 – Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
>>Jan. 26 – Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
>>Feb. 12 – Celtics vs. San Antonio Spurs
>>March 12 – Celtics vs. New York Knicks
>>March 19 – Celtics vs. Miami Heat
>>March 30 – Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls
>>April 4 – Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
>>April 16 – Celtics vs. Washington Wizards (final game of the season)

Rajon Rondo
This is a huge year for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.  No, it’s not a contract year nor is he not on pace to break some meaningful record.  This season could lead to him remaining a Celtic for the rest of his career or it could be his last in Boston. 

Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
Rondo is currently out recovering from a partially torn ACL.  It looks like he might return sometime in December.  Celtics GM Danny Ainge will have to determine if Rondo, who’s not the easiest guy to coach or the greatest shooter, is the cornerstone of the franchise’s rebuilding process or the piece that’s traded for the cornerstone.

Fair Trade
In order to trade Rondo, and get the value they want for him, the franchise needs him to get back on the court and play well.  Right now, his trade value is at its lowest.  If the Celtics do trade him they’ll want a top 15 player in return.  Recently, rumors were floating around that the Knicks were interested in the point guard.  True or not, the Knicks have nothing the Celtics want.  The rumors did accomplish one thing, they forced Ainge to come out and publically back his floor general.

“I think a lot of people forget that Rajon was the starting guard on the Eastern Conference All-Star team last year.  Rajon has been really good. I think him and Brad (Stevens [the team’s new coach]) are developing a great relationship, and he’s just a huge part of our future. We’re building around Rajon.” – Danny Ainge

Final Word On Rondo
Here’s what I think will happen: if a team offers Celtics something like an All-Star and a few starters they’ll trade Rondo, but if an awesome deal doesn’t come along they’ll keep him.  He’s not an once-in-a-lifetime talent that you hold onto no matter what but he’s still a special player.  Bottom line, if you want Rondo you’re going to have to give up a lot (and you’ll only get him on the Celtics timeable).

Other Trade Bait
Rumors will be swirling around Celtic Nation all year.  A week won’t go by where a rumor doesn’t surface that has Rondo going to this team or that for a cadre of players, a coach, a front office executive, a hot dog vendor, and a palette load of towels. 

When the media isn’t talking about possible Rondo trades they’ll discuss deals involving Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.  Both players have huge contracts and will be attractive to teams who think they’re a player away from a championship. I’d be very surprise if both players are still in Boston after the NBA trade deadline.

More Trade Bait
The next level of trade bait includes guard Courtney Lee and forward Brandon Bass.  Lee is a nice player but he’s taking up about $11 million in cap room.  Bass’ contract isn’t bad, just $7 million in 2014-2015, but he’s a veteran who should be playing for a playoff team.  Although he’s a starter, Jeff Green could be dealt too.  While athletic, he’s a turnover machine, doesn’t share the ball, and takes off plays.

The Prodigy
This is Brad Stevens first year as head coach of the Boston Celtics.  When talking about the Celtics rebuilding process, a lot of pundits reference Stevens, a college wunderkind, and include his ability to gel with the roster as an ingredient to the team’s comeback.  I disagree.  No offense to Stevens, who is a proven winner (at the college level), but coaching is way overrated in the NBA.

If Stevens doesn’t pan out (i.e. doesn’t get along with Rondo), the team can fire him and go with someone else.  The rebuilding process isn’t going to be stunted because of a coach.  Of course, if guys like playing for him, and he gets his team to play defense, then who knows, maybe he can expedite the rebuilding process.

Draft Picks
Celtics fans will also want to root against the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks this season (if they’re not already).  That’s because the C’s will get the Nets 2014 first round pick in the NBA Draft.  Keep in mind, Atlanta has the right to swap their first round pick with the Nets (as part of the Joe Johnson trade).  As long as the Hawks are doing better than the Nets, Celtics should count on getting the Hawks first round selection.

Regardless, the pick should be in the high teens or low twenties.  Despite the Nets’ atrocious start, you figure both teams will make the playoffs.  Still, you never know.  Both teams could post losing records, qualify for the NBA lottery, and set the Celtics up with another high first round draft pick.  Regardless of the long odds, the situation gives Celtics fans reasons to root for whoever is playing the Nets and Hawks.

Boston Celtics 2013-2014 Roster
Brandon Bass – F              
Keith Bogans – G/F         
Avery Bradley – G            
MarShon Brooks – G      
Jordan Crawford – G      
Vitor Faverani – C            
Jeff Green – G/F
Kris Humphries – F          
Courtney Lee – G             
Kelly Olynyk – C/F            
Phil Pressey – G
Rajon Rondo – G              
Jared Sullinger – F            
Gerald Wallace – F

By David B.

U2 Should Bring Back Vinyl Records

U2 Should Bring Back Vinyl Records

U2 Tickets

In 2014, U2 will release a new studio album.  It will be the 13th of their career.  Chances are good (as good as Justin Timberlake making another bad film) that they will tour in support.  I’d imagine they’ll embark on a stadium tour of the U.S. sometime over the summer.

U2 hasn’t released a new album since February 27, 2009 (No Line on the Horizon) and a new single since Aug. 17, 2009 (“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”).  Their pending opus will be their first new music in more than three years.

Well, almost their first new music.

On Nov. 29, 2013, U2 is releasing a song called “Ordinary Love.”  The track is included in the upcoming Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.”  You can hear a bit of the song in the movie’s trailer which you can find online.

The two songs will be available for purchase via a limited edition 10” vinyl record.  Only 10,000 will be pressed.  For those of you who don’t know, a vinyl record is a thin black disc with a bunch of lines on it (actually, there’s only one line per side) that’s used with a phonograph.  If you need further clarification just ask your grandparents. 

“Ordinary Love’s” release date coincides with Record Store Day’s “Back to Black Friday.”  That’s a little confusing since Record Store Day is the third Saturday in April.  “Back to Black Friday” (held on the day after Thanksgiving) is another promotion used by America’s record store to drum up business.

By the way, the B-side to “Ordinary Love” is the original version of “Breathe” from their album No Line on the Horizon.  The version of “Breathe” that’s on the aforementioned disc contains different lyrics.  The version released with “Ordinary Love” contains lyrics about the South African hero and is officially titled “Breathe (Mandela version).”

The band did a similar good deed in 2010.  They released a 3-track live album called Wide Awake in Europe.  The EP contained live versions of "I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight," "Moment of Surrender," and "Mercy."  All three songs were recorded at European U2 concerts.  Only 5,000 copies of the 12-inch vinyl record were released.

U2’s efforts in helping North American record stores are honorable, but if they really wanted to assist struggling vinyl retailers they shouldn’t release two or three tracks on wax, they should release an entire album’s worth of unreleased or live songs.

And let’s not stop there.  Let’s follow through and bring back the vinyl record! 

Digital music has been around for a while and artists really haven’t taken the medium to new and amazing heights. They certainly haven’t pushed digital music like artists pushed the vinyl record.

Now, I’m not advocating we forsake digital music.  I’m not one of those fuddy-duddies who renounces iTunes, mp3s, and ear buds.  Digital music is awesome and I love it.  I have a thousand songs on my iPod.  I can be in my car, or out for a jog, or riding the bus and I can listen to a Bon Jovi song, followed by a Michael Bublé song, followed by “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.  You can’t get that on vinyl.  Then on my computer, I have more than 60 days’ worth of digital music.  It takes up virtually no room, and if I wanted to, I can listen to it all continuously.  You can’t do that with vinyl records and the turntable.

I’ll be the first to admit that vinyl records are bulky and the phonograph is the least portable recorded music format this side of the player piano.  With relative ease, vinyl records can be scratched and/or warped.  To get the best sound quality out of a vinyl record you need to spend a lot of money (a lot) and you need pristine vinyl.  You can’t really dance to a vinyl record because you might cause the needle to skip—oh yeah, did I mention that vinyl records skip fairly easily?  On top of all that, at the end of the side you have to get up and flip the record over—you can’t listen to hours of continuous music like you can with digital music.

Even so, nothing beats listening to rock and roll music spun on a turntable.  Rock music was meant to be heard on vinyl.  The scratches and pops normally associated with vinyl adds character and ambience to rock music.  Furthermore, vinyl records are not background music.  What I mean by that is you sit down and actively listen to a vinyl record; it’s not something you put on while you exercise or make dinner.

This is how it’s supposed to go down: you spin a vinyl record, crack open a beverage, plopped down on the couch, and escape into Abbey Road, Exile on Main St., or Dark Side of the Moon.  Those albums will sound better on your iPod but it strips away all the warmth, charm, and excitement.

Then there’s the album cover.  That’s an art form in its own right.  An album cover is the perfect canvas size for a photographer or an artist.  The best part of the album cover is all the information it can contain (from lyrics to credits to the story of how the record was made). 

As the vinyl spins on the turntable, you examine every inch of the album cover and the record sleeve.  Even sparse album covers with generic record sleeves can be perused for at least a side.  You can’t do that with digital music.

If you’re like me, your computer already has an awesome set of speakers (can we say Call of Duty?)  You can procure a turntable with an USB output for under $100.  And lots of bands are still releasing their albums on vinyl.  I just checked with Amazon, and you can get new vinyl from Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, and Arctic Monkeys.

Then there are thousands of records from the 1950’s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s for sale at record stores, flea markets, and garage sales.  When I collected vinyl (back when I had plenty of room), I found a record store that sold albums three for a dollar (granted they were pretty beat up).  Thanks to that store and a few others, I had managed to procure over 5,000 vinyl albums including a few by U2.  You can still get most of their catalog on vinyl.  To begin your collection, I’d start with War from 1983. 

Bands like U2, Pearl Jam, and Arctic Monkeys are tailor made to produce vinyl records.  They’re all rock bands and they all make great albums (they’re not singles bands).  I think they would benefit from marketing their albums on vinyl.  They have fans that would buy their music on wax.

Artists like Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Carrie Underwood are great but vinyl doesn’t do them any favors.  Their music is meant for the digital age.  Acts like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and One Direction shouldn’t bother with vinyl records either.  Their music is meant to be download one song at a time. 

U2 and other rock bands shouldn’t release vinyl albums as an after-thought.  They should actually go into the studio with the intention of making a great vinyl album that will eventually be released on other formats.

I think consumers are ready for rock bands to bring back the vinyl record.  Oddly enough, I think the technology is there to make it happen.  As for U2, they not only play the right kind of music but they wield the necessary clout to start the revival. 

Remember, you collect vinyl records.  You store digital music. 

By David B.

Seven Popular Axioms From Popular Music

Seven Popular Axioms From Popular Music

Jimmy Buffett Tickets

Popular music has given us a lot.  One of the things it has given us is a bunch of new words and phrases: “groupies,” “boy band,” “Chumbawamba,” and “twerking.”  These words and phrase are much more than mere rock and roll slang; they are part of our everyday lives.  Of course, if you’re saying the word “twerking” every day you might want to re-evaluate your life choices. 

The following list contains some of popular music’s most popular idioms.  Many of the following phrases are used just as much outside of the world of music as they’re used within it.  While it’s not a great example (which is why it’s not on our list) this phrase does explain what we mean: “Moves Like Jagger.”  The title of Maroon 5’s biggest single references a singer we all know while creating a brand new way of describing how someone dances (provided of course they’re dancing like the lead singer of the Rolling Stones). 

“Elvis has left the building”
The first person to say “Elvis has left the building” was Horace Lee Logan in December of 1956.  He said it not to clear people out of the venue but to quiet them down for the next act.  It was later used to calm audiences after an Elvis concert and then as a catchphrase/punchline.  You’ll hear baseball announcers use this phrase to describe a home run.  Pithy revelers use this phrase to announce the departure of the party’s resident douche bag.  An obstetrician once told me that she used the phrase at the end of an easy child birth.  As for this entry, “Elvis has left the building!”

“Get The Led Out”
This is the case of a band being so popular that they changed the meaning of a well-known idiom.  “Get the lead out” used to only mean “move faster” or “hurry up.”  Thanks to Led Zeppelin, and a slight altering of the phrase’s spelling, “Get the Led Out” can now mean “Let’s listen to some Led Zeppelin music!”  It can also mean “Let’s listen to music we can’t dance to or sing-a-long to, in fact all we can really do while listening to Led Zeppelin is bang our heads and play air guitar!”

“…pulled a Jimmy Buffett”
This adage is brand new and the inspiration for this list.  Even so, I think it will catch on.  This past June, a Kentucky lawyer, who was drowning in debt and dealing with the death of his mother, said he was going fishing but never returned.  In late October, a friend discovered that the lawyer had gone off the gird and moved to a campsite.  The friend told a local newspaper that the lawyer “pulled a Jimmy Buffett.”

The friend was referring to Buffett’s song “Landfall” which is about a man sailing away for a month to “recharge” his mind.  So if things get too real and you need to get away just tell your friends that you’re “pulling a Jimmy Buffett.”   By the way, you probably won’t hear “Landfall” at an upcoming Jimmy Buffett concert.  You can however find the song on Buffett’s 1977 album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.

“That’s my favorite Bob Dylan album.”
“That’s my favorite Bob Dylan album” is a retort one uses in a similar fashion to the classic “That’s what she said.”  While the latter is generally used to make a bawdy joke, “That’s my favorite Bob Dylan album” is used to show the world that you’re a rock snob who knows what a Bob Dylan album title sounds like.  For example, a friend asks “Do you have any bread in the cupboard?”  Then you say “’Bread in the Cupboard’ is my favorite Bob Dylan album.”  Your significant other observes “The silver train is going to California.”  Then you quickly respond “’Silver Train to California’ is my favorite Bob Dylan album.”  There’s definitely a nuisance to how you use this phrase but if you get it down you’ll be the life of the party.  Well, life of a party that plays Bob Dylan music.

“The Beatles of….” & “…is their Sgt. Peppers.”
Sometimes someone or something, or in this case, some group, is so good at what they do they become a cliché for greatness.  The Beatles are that group.  Therefore, if you’re the greatest heavy metal band of all-time then you’re “The Beatles of heavy metal music.”  If you’re the greatest polka band of all-time then you’re “The Beatles of polka bands.”  You can also use this aphorism to assess the quality level of non-musicals things.  For example, “They’re The Beatles of testing water quality” or “They’re The Beatles of cavandoli macramé.” 

While we’re talking about the Fab Four, you can also use the term “Sgt. Pepper’s” to describe someone’s magnum opus (or you could just use the term magnum opus).  After all, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the band’s greatest album.  For example, MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular is their “Sgt. Pepper’s;” Beyoncé Knowles’ Dangerously in Love is her “Sgt. Pepper’s;” and Black Eyed Peas’… ah, never mind.  Bottom line, when you compare something to “The Beatles” or to “Sgt. Pepper’s” everyone knows you’re talking about something that’s really great.

“Witchy Woman”
The sitcom Seinfeld taught the world that some people become completely mesmerized whenever a certain song comes on the radio or stereo.  These people stop whatever it is they’re doing and listen intently.  They can’t help themselves.  In this famous Seinfeld episode, Elaine’s boyfriend spaces out every time he hears the Eagles song “Desperado.”  Keep in mind, the term used to describe the phenomenon is actually “Witchy Woman.”  Elaine suggested they make “Witchy Woman” “their song” after he refuses to share “Desperado.”  My “Witchy Woman” is Don McLean’s “American Pie.”  My wife’s “Witchy Woman” is David Gray’s “Babylon.”  Other good “Witchy Woman” candidates are The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” the U2 song “Bullet The Blue Sky,” and Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me.”

“Yoko Ono”
“Yoko Ono” is a much needed term.  Think about it.  The English language doesn’t have a word for a girlfriend who breaks up an awesome band.  While Yoko Ono ripped The Beatles apart, you can use “Yoko Ono” to describe any paramour who immediately causes the demise of any group—it doesn’t have to be a rock band.  You can call the girlfriend who breaks up your chess club “Yoko Ono.”  You can call the girlfriend who ruins your bird watching group “Yoko Ono.”  Of course, if you were in chess and bird watching clubs you may have bigger problems than a “Yoko Ono.”

By David B.

Chicago The Musical: Ten Things You Don’t Know About The Show

Chicago The Musical: Ten Things You Don’t Know About The Show

Chicago The Musical tickets

Thanks to the 2002 film and the proliferation of handheld video devices, you can literally watch Chicago The Musical anywhere, and at any time, you want.  Of course, the best way to see Chicago isn’t on a screen but in a theatre.  Currently, the production is running on Broadway collecting Chicago the Musical tickets at the famed Ambassador Theater.

If you don’t live near the Big Apple, or you can’t swing a trip to the Great White Way any time soon, you can always catch the touring production.  Chicago the Musical will be in Jackson, Mississippi on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.  Lexington, Kentucky welcomes Chicago the Musical to the Lexington Opera House from Nov. 8 through Nov. 10.  Houston hosts a longer run of Chicago the Musical.  The production has been booked at H-town’s Hobby Center from Nov. 12 through Nov. 17.  Before the company takes a break for the holidays, Chicago the Musical can be enjoyed in Austin, Texas from Nov. 19 through Nov. 24.

Obviously, Chicago is a very popular show.  They don’t make movies out of musicals no one sees.  That being said, there’s still a lot about this musical people don’t know.  That’s why BSTLV has put together a list of ten things you don’t know about Chicago the Musical.  Even if you’ve seen the musical, or the movie, you’ll still want to read our list.  You can’t learn any of the following facts by merely listening to Roxie Hart or Velma Kelly.

Author Of Source Material Said No To Musical
The original Roxie Hart, Gwen Verdon, read Maurine Dallas Watkins’ play Chicago and then suggested to her husband, Bob Fosse, that he should adapt it into a musical.  Fosse asked Watkins for permission but she declined.  Watkins was a born-again Christian and thought her play, and any subsequent musical, would glorify unrighteous behavior.  Fosse finally got the rights to the play after Watkins died in 1969.  Chicago debuted on Broadway in 1975.

Liza Minnelli Saved Chicago
Chicago debuted on Broadway around the same time as A Chorus Line.  A Chorus Line bested Chicago at both the box office and the Tony Awards.  It hard to believe now but Chicago almost didn’t make it.  The show received poor reviews and audiences were put off by both its subject matter and its frequent breaking of the fourth wall.  The situation was made even bleaker when Gwen Verdon was forced to leave the show for a month to undergo throat surgery.  Just when it appeared that Chicago was going to close its doors for good, Liza Minnelli came aboard and took over the role of Roxie Hart (for the month Verdon was out).  Liza’s popularity was enough to elevate the show’s profile.  The rest as they say is history.

The Original Chicago Ran For Less Than 1,000 Shows
Chicago opened at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) on June 3, 1975.  It ended its run on August 27, 1977 after 936 performances.  To put that in perspective, the current incarnation of Chicago—the revival running on Broadway—has (as of Oct. 27, 2013) notched 7,037 performances.  We’ve already mentioned that Gwen Verdon was the original Roxie (remember she was married to director and choreographer Bob Fosse), but we haven’t told you that the incomparable Chita Rivera played Velma Kelly.

“Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville” Became “Chicago: The Musical”
When Chicago debuted on the Great White Way it was officially titled “Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville.”  Each number was patterned after either a Vaudeville performer or a type of Vaudeville act.  When the show was revived producers dropped the Vaudeville stuff as well as the sets and elaborate costumes.  With a new book by David Thompson and new choreography by Ann Reinking (who also starred as Roxie), “Chicago: The Musical” was much more accessible to audiences.

There Are Other Venues Hosting Chicago The Musical
Chicago the Musical has enjoyed runs at three Broadway theatres: the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Shubert Theatre, and the Ambassador Theatre.  In 2014, you can catch Chicago the Musical at Hamilton Place in Hamilton, Ontario on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11.  Chrysler Hall in Norfolk will serve up a run of Chicago the Musical from Valentine’s Day to Feb. 16.  The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida will be the site for two Chicago the Musical performances.  One on March 4 and the other on March 5.

Chicago The Musical Is A Record Setting Show
The revival of Chicago set a record for shortest amount of time a Broadway show needed to recuperate its costs.  Furthermore, Chicago the Musical is the longest running revival, and longest running American show, in the history of the Great White Way.  Overall, it’s Broadway’s third-longest running production behind The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.  The revival of Chicago won six Tony Awards which was a record until it was surpassed by a revival of South Pacific.

Chicago The Musical Is Just One Degree Removed From Seinfeld
At first glance, it would appear that Chicago the Musical and the sitcom Seinfeld have nothing in common.  If you dig a little deeper however you’ll realize that they are separated by just one degree.  In the original production, Barney Martin played Amos Hart.  Martin then went on to play Morty Seinfeld (Jerry’s dad).  Remember the Seinfeld character of J. Peterman?  He was Elaine’s boss.  Well, that character was played by John O’Hurley who is now portraying Billy Flynn in the national touring company.

Ann Reinking Starred In Both The Original And The Revival of Chicago
During the original production, Broadway legend Ann Reinking replaced Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart.  In 1996, she choreographed the revival of Chicago the Musical.  When producers couldn’t find an actress to play Roxie Hart, Reinking stepped in and took over the role.  Not only has Reinking played Roxie in both the original and the revival, but she also took over the lead role in A Chorus Line, Chicago’s nemesis.

Joel Gray Played Amos Hart In The Revival Of Chicago
Chicago was not the great Joel Gray’s first Kander and Ebb musical.  Gray was the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.  That role earned him a Tony Award for Best Performance by A Featured Actor in a Musical.  During the late 1960s through the 1970s, Gray padded his resume with three Tony nominations for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in Musical.  In 1996, he played Amos Hart in the revival of Chicago.  He didn’t get any love from the Tony Awards but he did get a Drama Desk nomination.  Then in 2003, Gray originated the role of the Wizard of Oz in a little, old musical called Wicked.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Chicago: The Musical National Tour Continues In 2014
The National Touring Company of Chicago the Musical is taking the holidays off but that doesn’t mean they’re not coming back.  Chicago returns Jan. 7 for a five-day stay in Cleveland, Ohio.  From Jan. 14 through Jan. 19, Chicago the Musical delights fans in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The tour remains in Oklahoma.  From Jan. 21 to Jan. 26 Chicago the Musical sets up its tent in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the town’s PAC.  Finally, Chicago the Musical will call Denver home from March 18 through March 23.

By David B.