Roxanne "Roxie" Hart is a fictional character. She is the main character of the 1926 play Chicago and its various remakes and derivatives.

Roxie Hart as portrayed by Ginger Rogers in the eponymous 1942 film

DevelopmentEdit

The playwright, reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, was inspired by the trials, both of which ended in acquittals, of Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner (for separate crimes), which she covered for the Chicago Tribune. Annan's story served as the basis for the play: she had killed her paramour Harry Kalstedt and was able to convince her auto mechanic husband Albert to pay for her successful defense, only to dump him the day after the trial. For the play, Annan was fictionalized as Roxie Hart, Kalstedt became Fred Casely, and Albert became Amos Hart. Some of the details of Gaertner's crime, including her past as a vaudeville singer (Annan was a bookkeeper) and blaming of her misdeed on getting drunk, were also applied to the Roxie character.[1] The 1975 musical adaptation bases Hart's mannerisms on Helen Morgan.[2]

Character backgroundEdit

During her time as a young adult, Roxanne dreamed of a career in vaudeville but, despite dating noted mobster Al Capelli and getting some press attention as a socialite, is never able to break into the business beyond some work as a chorus girl in a seedy nightclub on Chicago's South Side. Defeated, she falls for auto mechanic Amos Hart, a kind-hearted but meek and naïve man with a stable working-class income; his relationship with Roxie is more akin to that of a father figure (her own father disowned her three years before she met Amos) than a romantic partner. Seven years into the marriage, she and Amos have stopped having sex and she begins an affair with Fred Casely, a furniture salesman, while Amos is working his long hours. At the start of the show, Roxie shoots Fred after he attempts to break off the affair and convinces Amos that she was stopping a burglar.

After Amos reneges on an agreement to take the fall when he deduces the truth, Roxie is arrested for the crime and, while being detained, falls under the influence of the prison's bribe-taking warden, "Mama" Morton, who has the connections to turn Roxie's case into a media sensation and also connects her to hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn. Roxie uses the media coverage as a way for her to revive her aspirations of a vaudeville career, with Flynn and Morton helping along the way. Throughout her trial, she forms a rivalry with another murder suspect, Velma Kelly.

In the end, Roxie is acquitted of the crime, Amos leaves her (both for lack of attention and lying about being pregnant to gain sympathy from the press), and her dreams of superstardom are dashed when the media abandons her story. She eventually returns to the vaudeville circuit, now with Velma as a partner.

PortrayalsEdit

The play made it to Broadway in 1926 and ran for 172 performances. Gaertner attended the Chicago opening. Its adaptations include:

Performers who have portrayed Roxie Hart in the musical also include Katherine Edgar, Paige Davis, Erika Jayne, Lisa Rinna, Liza Minnelli (who substituted for Gwen Verdon in the original production in 1975), Ann Reinking, Bianca Marroquin, Brooke Shields,[3] Ruthie Henshall, Melora Hardin,[4] Ashlee Simpson,[3] Melanie Griffith,[3] Samantha Harris, Michelle Williams,[3] Shiri Maimon, Christie Brinkley,[5] Brandy Norwood,[6] Tiffany Young,[7] and Pamela Anderson in her Broadway debut.[8] Henshall, Simpson, Shields, and Williams have portrayed the character both on Broadway and The West End. Bebe Neuwirth, who won a Tony Award for the role of Velma Kelly in 1997, also portrayed Roxie in the same production in 2006.[3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Women Who Inspired Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly". Clyde Fitch Report. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  2. ^ Kander, John; Ebb, Fred; Lawrence, Greg (October 2004). Colored Lights: Forty Years of Words and Music, Show Biz, Collaboration, and All That Jazz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-571-21169-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Hart to Hart: a lineup of Roxies in the musical Chicago". guardian.co.uk. London. July 15, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  4. ^ Office Star Hardin to Make Broadway Debut in Chicago Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Tuttle, Nancye (October 25, 2012). "Boston's hottest date". The Sun. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  6. ^ "Good Luck To Ya, Brandy! Grammy Winner Brandy Norwood Will Rake in the Chips in Broadway's Chicago". broadway.com. March 24, 2015.
  7. ^ Ramli, Sofiana (February 17, 2021). "Girls' Generation's Tiffany cast as Roxie Hart in Korean musical production of 'Chicago'". NME. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  8. ^ McNeil, Liz; VanHoose, Benjamin (March 23, 2022). "Pamela Anderson Says Her Chicago Broadway Debut 'Is the Beginning of the Rest of My Career'". People. Retrieved 10 April 2022.