Two-time Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth, who originated the role of Velma Kelly in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago (and subsequently played both Roxie Hart and Matron "Mama" Morton), helped welcome 500 New York City public school educators to the February 2 performance of the long-running production at the Ambassador Theatre as part of Teachers Night on Broadway.
Prior to curtain, Neuwirth said, “We want to thank you for nurturing the next generation of producers, performers, musicians, directors, writers, stagehands, lighting directors, and Broadway audiences. And for being there for students during these past hard years of the pandemic—by providing them with emotional support and a lifeline. We are glad you are here! Please stand up—this time, the applause is for you!”
Watch the Broadway favorite's introduction in this video, and check out photos from the evening below.
The event—to show appreciation for the efforts teachers, chaperones, school social workers, guidance counselors, librarians, and school nurses do each day to help students succeed—coincided with the announcement of the spring 2023 season of Broadway Bridges, which aims to provide every New York City public school student with the chance to attend a Broadway show before they graduate.
Teachers Night on Broadway is presented by The Broadway League in conjunction with the United Federation of Teachers. Earlier in the day, a press conference took place in Times Square, and the 500 educators gathered as guest speakers addressed the importance of arts education and introducing students to Broadway.
City Council Member Keith Powers (District 4) presented the UFT and The Broadway League with a Citation from City Hall praising the work done on behalf of Broadway Bridges.
The current cast of Chicago features Charlotte d’Amboise as Roxie Hart, Lana Gordon as Velma Kelly, Jinkx Monsoon as Matron "Mama" Morton, James T. Lane as Billy Flynn, Evan Harrington as Amos Hart, and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine.
The company also includes David Bushman, Christine Cornish, Jennifer Dunne, Jessica Ernest, Jeff Gorti, Arian Keddell, Mary Claire King, Marty Lawson, Joseph London, Barrett Martin, Sharon Moore, Drew Nellessen, Celina Nightengale, Brian O'Brien, Denny Paschall, Jermaine R. Rembert, Rachel Schur, and Michael Scirrotto.
The revival of Chicago began life as one of the three annual Encores! presentations offered by City Center. The musical opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in November 14, 1996, where it remained through February 1997. The musical transferred to the Shubert Theatre, and played that house through January 26, 2003. The revival reopened at the Ambassador Theatre January 29 that year.
Since its debut in 1996, Chicago has played in 36 countries and been seen by 33 million people worldwide. It is now the second-longest running show in Broadway history (after The Phantom of the Opera).
READ: How the Chicago Costumes Have Evolved Over 25 Years
With a book by the late Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Ebb, Chicago features direction by Walter Bobbie, choreography by the late Ann Reinking, set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Scott Lehrer, and casting by Stewart/Whitley.
The current production, produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 1997 as well as awards for actors Bebe Neuwirth and James Naughton, director Bobbie, lighting designer Billington, and Reinking. The original production was directed and choreographed by the late Fosse.