• Lillie Burke

Prepare to be dazzled by “Chicago”

Nashville, Tenn. embraces seduction and corruption with the merry murderesses of “Chicago.”

Despite being almost a century since the infamous female murderers rocked the Windy City, America proves that it is no less obsessed with the concept of celebrity criminals with “Chicago.”

“Chicago,” winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and one Grammy, is the longest-running American musical on Broadway. During its current tour, “Chicago” will pass “Cats” and become the second longest-running musical of all time, just behind “Phantom of the Opera.”

“Chicago,” which has impressed audiences around the world, will be performed at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for one week beginning Oct. 21 and is based on the real cases of two women charged with the murder of their lovers in 1924.

Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan, the inspiration behind the show, famously used seduction and feminine charm to convince the all-male juries of their innocence. They became the first in a string of acquittals for female killers.

The show is set during the height of the Jazz Age, a time when women were becoming more prominent and were discovering how to use their sex appeal to achieve the things they needed.

“They were quite beautiful women and very sensationalized. If you had the right lawyer, the right press and you were kind of pretty enough, you got away with it,” said Terra C. MacLeod, who portrays Velma Kelly in “Chicago.”

Kelly, who is based on Gaertner, was the first woman to use her new Murderess Row address to gain fame.

In the show, Kelly is a Vaudevillian actress who pays the jail’s matron to allow press conferences, phone calls and interviews, allowing her to maintain her celebrity status created by the sensational papers.

Kelly enjoys her popularity and fame until Roxie Hart, a character based on Beulah Annan, arrives at the jailhouse. Hart quickly learns how to steal the spotlight from Kelly, and the two become more and more desperate in their attempts to maintain the headlines.

The women share the lawyer Billy Flynn, a man hiding his corruption and greed behind a flashy court suit. Flynn will be brought to life in this production by John O’Hurley, a man famous for “Seinfeld” and “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Chicago” will run Oct. 21 to Oct. 26 at TPAC. Tickets are available through TPAC’s website, and Belmont students will receive a discount by using promo code “BELMONT” upon checking out.

PHOTO: Chicago the Musical Touring Company

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