It was not but until I saw Cabaret that I felt deceived by appearance and the opinion of people. All you hear about Cabaret is that it is a lascivious musical full of sexual jokes. However, you never hear that it is a musical about how we must face and fight reality instead of hiding behind a wall of lies. This is because we seem not to be able to go past the funny side of irony; we do not understand that irony is not only used to say something funny, or to say something negative, but irony is used to teach truth too.
Chicago, reminds me of Cabaret. It is a musical that dresses very important morals with irony. It is a very simple musical; the orchestra is on stage, which is the one and single static scenario. The only decorations shown on stage are chairs, metal bars, an American flag, a flashy curtain and ladders. Characters only have one attire, whether they are playing the judge or journalists. The clothing is light, a mix of old vaudeville and modern adult shows. The story is about Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, two inmates in the Cook County Jail of Chicago who are charged with murder. They both hired Billy Flynn, a very successful lawyer. This lawyer has a very particular procedure to win cases; he makes up a sensational story to explain the reason murder, he turns his clients into stars of public interest, making the people think they are innocent, weak, and victims of injustice and misunderstandings. He claims, “if Jesus Christ lived in Chicago today, and he had come to me and he had five thousand dollars, let’s just say things would have turned out differently.” Now, Roxie and Velma need to fight to be the most popular client to ensure their freedom.
Although this is what the story is about, the focus of the musical is fame; how quickly fame comes and goes, how quickly things get old, how competitive keeping fame is, how treacherous people can be to be on the top.
I would like to talk specifically about four quotes of the musical that taught me something. There are many more things I could say, but you do not want to read a whole novel of opinions. So, I will stick to only four quotes:
“All I care about is love.” This is what Billy Flynn says in his presentation surrounded by dancing women that “want him.” Although our mind wants to understand that this is an irony that translates into “all I care is sex,” the ultimate meaning of this quote is “all I care is fame.” All I care about is love, is how Billy sells himself; he does not want people to think he is all about money, or that he is prideful, he wants the people to think that his main goal in life is to help people and, therefore, his main motive is love. This is a critique on how easily we can be deceived by what the press or advertising sells and what things truly look like.
“Who says that murder is not an art?” Once on the papers and famous, Roxie Hart turns to the audience in a monologue and confesses some things. It is a monologue filled with vanity and selfishness, all we can call worldly desires. She always wanted to be on the papers, she always sought for fame, she wanted to be a vaudeville actress, but she lived in a world full of no. Now she is popular, she is on everyone’s lips, all because she killed someone. Then she says, “who says that murder is not an art?” This is another critique to society and the press. At times, because of how the media disguises things, we celebrate the lives of murderers and other criminals. This was still so even back in the times of Jesus Christ, when Barabbas was released in Jesus’s stead. In our society, even murder can be valued and applauded.
“You can like the life you’re living, you can live the life you like.” Once she wins the case and she is declared innocent, some other murder happens just outside of court and all the journalists forget about Roxie and she loses all her fame. That’s when she sings “Nowadays” where she realized it’s “gone, it’s all gone.” This is a song that describes how in modern society you can do whatever you want, you can “marry harry, but mess around with Ike.” A song that claims that nowadays everything is good, grand, swell but “nothing stays.” Nothing stays but, “oh, it’s heaven, nowadays.” Knowing that, that you can enjoy the moment nowadays even though it’s going to be gone in “50 years or so,” you have to decide today if you want to live your normal life, or the life you like. Because, after all, “You can like the life you’re living, you can live the life you like.” She chose to live the life she liked but… is it worth all the betrayal? All the corruption? Now she has nothing. Even though this song raises the question of what you want for your life, it is clear that the author does not want you to end up like her. It is good if you live the life you life, as long as you do not destroy everything around you to reach that goal.
“There’s a little bit of good in everyone.” I wanted to finish with this quote by Mary Sunshine. She is a very popular journalist, followed by many, many readers, that Billy uses to ensure the fame of his clients. Mary always tries to find the little bit of good inside everyone. There is always good in everyone, even if it is just a little. I love this quote, because, in fact, there is good in everything and in everyone, we can always learn good things of everyone and of everything. It is just a matter of perspective. That is why it is important to learn to interpret irony, to seek for the deeper meaning of irony, the deeper meaning of the words. That is why Cabaret and Chicago are not only musicals with sexual connotations, they are musicals that talk about truths and important decisions in life.
In conclusion, Chicago is a musical full of irony that critiques the manipulation of the media, the corruption in the realms of justice and all the bad that we can cause on the pursue of our dreams. Reason why the musical ends with the biggest irony of all, when Roxie and Velma, once free, say “You know, a lot of people has lost faith in America. And for what America stands for. But we are the living examples of what a wonderful country this is. So, we’d just like to say thank you and God Bless you.” This is my interpretation of the musical, but maybe, as Mary Sunshine’s mum said, I just placed colored glasses on my nose, and I saw robins not the crows. I invite you to go see it, maybe you learn something different.