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Talkin' Broadway V.J.

23 Skidoo!

Y'know, I really oughta get a life!

Each time the phone rings I never know who could be calling (I'm an e-mail kind of guy) but I take the calls.

" game for Chicago tonight?", asks Devin Ewell, the Webmaster for the Las Vegas Chicago Website. "Devin...oh no! Not again. Sure, I'll meet you at 7:15."

There is an Internet group called "Skidoos!", fans of the musical Chicago and they've seen the show numerous times, but I don't think they would want me to be a member....they'd have to elect me President. Okay, I'll admit it...since 1975 I've seen the Kander and Ebb musical over 300 times. I simply can't get enough.

It starts with that overture. It's just sublime. And while I question why I would want to even see this show again, whether in Las Vegas, or New York, I'm simply seduced the minute the house lights dim and that orchestra strikes the first note. Chicago is simply one of the finest musicals ever written.

It started years ago...back in 1975. There was a whole group of us who saw it weekly. Box seats were $9.50 back then and Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon were quite fun and use to us. At curtain call they would acknowledge our presence by nodding their heads to the boxes as if to say..."There they are...those crazy Skidoos!" We were there weekly and it was a lot of fun.

When the revival opened on Broadway a few years ago, we Skidoos worried about our show but Ann Reinking recreated history and we became Skidoos all over again. And, yes, we travel to New York, London, and Las Vegas to catch the latest Roxie or Velma. Indeed, we need to get a life.

During this revival on Broadway (which won 6 Tony Awards) we have made many friends in the cast of Chicago, stars and chorus members, and it's been a lot of fun.

When the show opened at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas theatre fans throughout the world flew in to see Chita Rivera (who was in the 1975 cast). The show played to sell-out crowds for a year but all good things come to an end. It was announced that Chicago will close February 27, 2000. We Skidoos are very saddened. How could a hit show in Las Vegas fold? It was covering the "nut" and showing a profit. Alas, to be a hit in Las Vegas a show must attract a certain kind of visitor and that visitor must contribute to the drop at the gaming tables. In other words visitors to Chicago were not gamblers. As an entertainment marketing director from a major hotel told me recently, "I'd rather book Don Rickles than Chicago. People who come to see Rickles are players."

Perhaps, Las Vegas is not yet ready for Broadway. Sad, in a way, if you ask me.

Still, for us Skidoos, there's always the New York production, or London, or the one in the Netherlands, or Germany. And yes, we'll be there. Even if you're not a gambler, you can bet on that.

23 Skidoo!

See you Sunday!

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