John Kander and Fred Ebb’s hit musical Chicago was based on the play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins. A reporter in Chicago in the 1920s, Watkins covered the popular trials of two female murderers-- Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan-- who both blamed their actions on the negative effects of drink and jazz. At the time, female murderesses were media darlings, and following the two “jazz babies’” acquittal in 1924, Watkins wrote a satirical play, turning Gaertner into Velma Kelly and Annan into Roxie Hart. The play was produced in 1926 on Broadway, directed by George Abbott.
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