‘All That Jazz’ — and drama — on tap for ‘Chicago’

Terra C. MacLeod and ensemble perform in Broadway’s “Chicago.”
Terra C. MacLeod and ensemble perform in Broadway’s “Chicago.” Photo provided

“Chicago,” the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, is coming to the Eisenhower Auditorium April 11 and 12, bringing with it the performer who holds the record for longest-running female lead in the show.

Roz Ryan, 64, has been on and off the stage in her role as prison matron “Mama” Morton for 18 years. She says “Chicago” has a little bit of everything — corruption, greed, mayhem, murder.

“To work with one production for 18 years speaks volumes of their loyalty and my loyalty,” Ryan said in a telephone interview. She has traveled all over the world with the show, including Korea, the Philippines and most recently, Japan.

“I’m going to do this show until I can’t walk no more,” she said.

The musical is based on a play by journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins, who covered the 1924 Chicago murder trials of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune.

Set in the 1920s, “Chicago” follows the story of rivals Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, in prison for murdering their lover and husband, respectively. With the help of Mama Morton and lawyer Billy Flynn, Kelly attempts to transform her incarceration into newspaper headlines, and Hart reacts.

The soundtrack includes “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “I Move On” and other hits.

Ryan said the purity and simplicity of the show, along with its reliance on music and choreography, appeal to every audience.

“It’s the perfect show to be your first Broadway show,” she said. “We’ll take you to a place of laughter and mystery.”

The show opened on Broadway in 1996, making it the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It has been the recipient of six Tony Awards, two Laurence Olivier Awards and a Grammy.

The Penn State Center for the Performing Arts will also host Artistic Viewpoints, an informal discussion led by a visiting artist or a local expert, at 6:30 p.m. both nights at no extra charge on a first-arrival basis.

Victoria Arabskyj is a Penn State journalism student.


  • What: “Chicago”
  • When: 7:30 p.m. April 11-12
  • Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
  • Info: www.cpa.psu.edu