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Original Stars to Make Cameo Return as 'Chicago' Revival Becomes Second Longest-Running Show in Broadway History

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Sep 29, 2014 01:56 PM EDT

Tony Award winners Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton and Joel Grey, all original stars of the current Broadway revival of Chicago: The Musical, will return to make cameo appearances at a special performance celebrating the show's upcoming milestone as the second-longest-running show in Broadway history.

This Chicago is also the longest-running musical revival in Broadway history, and the longest-running American musical. The 1997 West End revival was a long-running smash too, running until 2012.

Now in its 18th year, the Broadway production plays its 7,486th performance November 23, 2014, surpassing Cats and becoming Broadway-longest running show next to The Phantom of the Opera.

Even if Phantom were to close today, Chicago would be a long time overtaking it, needing more than 3,500 performances to catch up. Meanwhile Disney's The Lion King nips at Chicago's heels. A year from now, if still running, it will surpass its smaller feline cousins.

Chicago opened November 14, 1996 with Reinking, Neuwirth, Naughton and Grey as Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn and Amos Hart, respectively. Each actor will make cameo appearances during the November 23, 2014 performance of the Kander and Ebb musical with a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse.

The revival won six Tony Awards in 1997, for Best Musical Revival, Best Direction of a Musical (Walter Bobbie), Best Choreography (Reinking), Best Lighting Design (Ken Billington), Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Neuwirth) and Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Naughton). Not to be outdone, the cast recording won a Grammy Award.

In staying power the revival has far outstripped the original production, which opened to mixed reviews in 1975 with choreography by Fosse and went on to run for 936 performances. The opening night stars were Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon, Jerry Orbach and Barney Martin. Both Reinking and Liza Minnelli were cast replacements at one time or another during the original's run.

Producer Barry Weissler said of the retooled revival, with choreography by Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, "[Director] Walter Bobbie and Ann Reinking recreated a musical masterpiece that has withstood the test of time, and it's with great honor that I look forward to sharing their masterpiece with audiences for many more years to come."

But with 18 years already in the books, this Chicago, now in its third Broadway home at the Ambassador Theatre, is already a long-lived landmark.

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TagsBebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, Ann Reinking, Chicago, Chicago the Musical, Joel Grey, Bob Fosse, Kander and Ebb, broadway, Broadway Musical, Musical, musical theater, Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Cats