Real to Reel

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Janina Sujeta

Real to Reel: The History of Maurine Dallas Watkins’s Stage Satire Chicago

ISBN 978-3-86821-306-5, 133 S., 36 Abb., € 15,00 (CD-ROM, 2011)

(Cultural Studies in the Heartland of America, Bd. 27)

The satirical play Chicago written by Maurine Dallas Watkins started as a series of newspaper articles published by the Chicago Tribune in 1924. Only two years later, it was adapted for the theater stage and several stage and movie productions have followed ever since. Today, Chicago is one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. The 2002 movie adaptation directed by Rob Marshall was a huge commercial success and the first movie musical awarded with an Oscar for Best Picture in almost forty years. But what is it that makes Chicago a truly timeless piece still captivating audiences all over the world? The purpose of this work is to answer this question and to provide necessary background information about the young author Maurine Dallas Watkins, the real stories behind Chicago and the reasons for the young journalist to turn the articles she had written into a stage satire about murder, greed, violence and the cult of celebrity in our media-crazed society. This also includes a close examination of the social and cultural background of the years between 1920 and 1930, the so called Roaring Twenties. In addition, this work will give an overview of the different textual and theatrical versions of the satire. Finally, the 2002 movie adaptation directed by Rob Marshall will be depicted in further detail.