Years ago, humans experienced the biggest landmark in history to date. The Global Shrinking Epidemic of the male species of 2030 took the world by surprise, and since that day the world has had to make several significant changes for a world dominated by the female gender. Government changed, business changed, and even the arts have changed. Though theatre is usually pushed aside as one of the least important things that’s had to change, it’s also probably the one that has undergone the most.
Many musicals and plays have been left in the dust due to the nature of it being so dependent on the female and male relationship. With all the men shrunken, even if they could be heard with the help of micro-sized microphones, they still couldn’t hardly be seen by an audience, which is why many classic shows that thrived in the theatres for years have completely vanished. Most productions are completely new works that fit an all women cast in an all woman world, but there have been many attempts to make adaptations of classic shows.
Chicago is one of the very few productions that has had a successful reinvention. It’s now ranked number one in both critic ratings and ticket sales, and after seeing the show for myself, it’s not hard to see why. I got to sit down with Susan Culver, the author who adapted the classical musical for an all female cast, and I got to take a peek into the rebirth of this show.
WARNING: The rest of this article contains material regarding the adult themes of the musical, and some details that might spoil the show as we talk about differences between the original Chicago and the re-imagining.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Susan.
Susan Culver: It’s my pleasure!
I want to start off by pointing out that most of you previous work seems to be plays. Did you always want to write a musical, or did this just happen to fall into your lap?
SC: Well, I had always wanted to be a writer for the theatre, but never in a million years did I think I would make a musical. I love musicals, but I can’t write myself, and I don’t think I could even write a story around musical numbers where someone else could write the musical numbers for me. So, doing a musical was never in my plans.
So, what events led to you making this musical?
SC: I went to school to become a playwright, but unfortunately, at the very end of my college career everything had suddenly changed due to all the men shrinking. The world had to adapt because of this drastic turn of events, and theatre was no exception. There were very few plays with all women casts, but that’s all theatres could do because they could no longer cast men. Some theatres tried gender bending all male roles, but it just seemed odd for so many different reasons. Other theatres tried to cast women in the male roles and just dress them up as men, and although it worked in Shakespearean times when boys dressed up as girls, in this day and age the audience couldn’t buy into it. You can’t suspend your disbelief, because even if the woman is doing an amazing job, your brain knows it’s not normal for a man to be that size. That’s why a few theatres even tried to cast males after the expensive micro-sized microphones came out, but audiences couldn’t get sucked into those shows either because they couldn’t see the tiny male actor. So, there were a lot of opportunities for young writers, but at the same time, there was also a huge challenge because it became a lot more difficult to write a show in our new world because it was still so new to us!
So, it was this challenge that made you write the musical?
SC: Yes! We all grew up watching and reading plays that almost always had a male and female dynamic to it. The most common form was a love story, but even stories about family or coming of age tales or anything that was just about life needed that dynamic for it to feel real to the audience and reflect the world we all grew up in. However, after all the men shrank, writers could no longer write those kinds of stories, and it became really hard for most writers to create a story.
That’s changed a little bit now though, hasn’t it?
SC: Definitely. After men first shrank, most of us writers completely wrote them out of our shows. We basically wrote stories in a world where men didn’t exist, and it was really weird because it didn’t reflect the world we grew up in or this new world that was so different to us. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that changed. One play came along and acknowledged the existence of shrunken men. It was called Men Aren’t People and it really started exploring the question everyone was thinking, but no one was talking about. Men were no longer what they once were, but what are they now? It was very controversial. Some girls loved it, others thought it was ignorant trash, but most women had to at least agree there were several differences between men before 2030 and after 2030, even if they didn’t like the message of the play.
Which kind of girl were you?
SC: I was really a bit in between. I thought the play’s outlook was a little harsh, but at the same time, men can no longer contribute to our world the way they used to. I think we have a good balance today. There’s still a lot of women out there who are upset over how we’re legally allowed to treat men, but there’s also a completely new generation arising. In the coming years there will be women who won’t even remember when males weren’t shrunken and won’t understand why she should still give them what partial respect society still demands we give them. I don’t fear for the men in our current society that still have some rights. I fear for the men in our future who won’t have any rights, but now we’re getting political.
So, after Men Aren’t People came out, did you finally get rid of your writer’s block?
SC: Unfortunately, no. It only helped those who wanted to use art to talk about men’s rights, and like I said, I was in the middle. Plus, our society was still in a constant change. A year after that play came out was when the government first started taking away some of men’s rights. There was a small uproar about this, but most women were okay with it when the government explained that if they took away a few rights away from men, they could legally make them rejoin the workforce and assign them jobs that they didn’t want to do, which basically solved the economic crisis we were having due to half the people suddenly becoming dependents.
Of course, theatre directors are allowed to treat men a little differently than say, a bank manager would.
SC: Right, because after men were starting to be forced to work in the theatre, we had no use for them. It wasn’t until one particular director came along that theatre got its biggest change. The director, who was also the writer of the play, made a change to her script in the middle of a rehearsal and told the lead actress to act like she was eating the man by dropping him in her mouth. He of course refused, and at that time he had the right to do so. After that, a group of female artists demanded they get the legal rights to do with tiny men as they please. They claimed it was “censorship” to only be allowed to make certain artistic with their miniature employees. There was a lot of back and forth on the topic, but eventually, the government decided girls could do more risqué things with tiny men in the name of art as long as it didn’t kill them, and as long as it only happened during the performances or rehearsals.
Clearly there were a lot of things that led up to the making of this musical, but let’s talk about the day it was created. What happened?
SC: Well, by that time, several musicals with shrunken men were made. Some were really tasteful, like Love Has No Size, which is one of the few plays where a man actually gets to sing and not just be a prop. Then there were other atrocities, like Men Are Beneath Me, which is just basically two hours of tiny men being tortured by one woman and has no real artistic value in my opinion. Those were the type of musicals that were in demand though. I was still a starving artist at the time and had sold a couple of decent stories, but I had no idea what I wanted to write next. Another thing that was in demand was adapting old stories for a modern audience, but even that wasn’t working out. Even though I had the core story to start off from, I couldn’t find one play that I could adapt that seemed to work for a world where all the men had shrunken. So, one day, I was in my apartment with my roommate Holly…
The same Holly Grace who stars in your adaptation of Chicago?
SC: Yes! We were actually both starving artists, but the difference was that Holly was an actress. We tried to help each other out and work on shows together, and although we worked on a few mediocre shows together, it would never last long, and most of our time was spent looking for work rather than actually working.
Until this musical of course. Tell us about how you created it for Holly.
SC: Well, one day I was trying to write a brand new script for Holly to star in, but I couldn’t come up with one good idea. Holly then suggested that we should adapt a play, but I had already attempted to redo some of my favorite plays and failed because they just didn’t fit the current world we live in today. So, I asked Holly what she would want to see redone. The first few ideas I quickly dismissed because I didn’t like shows. She paused for a moment, and then suddenly she lit up like a Christmas tree as she suggested Chicago. I knew it was one of her favorite musicals, and I liked the show too, but I knew nothing about music. When I told her that though, she cleverly reminded me that I wouldn’t have to write any actual music, just change the lyrics. This did make it sound more appealing, but I still didn’t want to do it. Men were such an important part of the show, and I just didn’t think it could work.
What changed your mind?
SC: Holly started singing all her favorite numbers trying to convince me to do it. It wasn’t working, but then she started singing “All That Jazz”, except with different lyrics. She sang “Come on babe, why don’t we do this show?” She then pointed at me to sing along. I rolled my eyes, but went along with it and sang “And all that Jazz.” Then she started seductively dancing in front of me, which is very appropriate for that song, and continued to sing “That tiny cheated on me, that’s why he’s gotta go…” and by the end of that line she had turned her back to me, dropped her hips, and slowly brought her ass back up. I paused for a second, but then I sang the first thing that came to mind “In all that azz?” She looked back at me and suddenly we were laughing so hard. It was just… funny. It was just a funny coincidence. She was dancing for fun, and by pure accident, made this rhyme pop into my head that kind of fit perfectly. So, Holly just ran with it and sang another parody line and built off the new chorus line I had accidentally come up “Start prepping, I know a whoopee-cushion spot, where the outsides cool, but the insides hot. It’s just a noisy hole, that’s where you’re gonna go” and I was laughing so hard I could barely sing “In all that azz” again. We just kept repeating the process trying to make each other laugh.
So, it started as you two just goofing around?
SC: Exactly. After that though, we ended up talking about why it was so funny. The idea of changing the story from girls who are in prison for murdering men, to girls who go to prison for putting tiny men in their butts seemed so hilarious. And yet, it fit perfectly, especially since it made it seem even more believable that they would become famous for their incriminating acts.
Was it that conversation that made you start taking the project seriously?
SC: We were still joking around more than anything, but that’s when it slowly started evolving from just a joke to an actual idea. Once we discussed why it was funny, we started making jokes why other parts of the show would be funny because of the new reason the girls go to prison. After we parodied more songs and scenes, many of which ended up in the actual show, we started talking about it more seriously.
What were the first aspects of the show that you were looking at more seriously?
SC: Well, both the original show and my show are comedies, but even with all the jokes, there were still serious elements that needed to be worked out, and the first one that I came up with was shrinking the guys. In every single other theatrical show in the new age of theatre, the men were all already shrunken, or they didn’t exist. This show is very different though. I felt like the girls just taking tiny men and putting them in their buttcracks didn’t sound as drastic as murder, and I also felt like it was hard to give all the girls motivation to do it. After all, in the original show, all the girls murder their man for a specific reason, but it’s hard for shrunken men to piss you off because of their tiny stature. That’s when I came up with the idea that after the man gave the girl a reason to piss her off, she would shrink him and then put him between her butt cheeks.
Weren’t you worried though that the audience might not connect with this idea since it had never been done before?
SC: I was at first, but when I bounced the idea off of Holly she agreed that this made it feel like much more of a crime, and it became a lot easier to give a reason for why the girls were doing it. They wouldn’t be picking up some random, tiny man and doing it just because they can, but because the man betrayed or hurt them in some way. The only hard part was working around the fact that we had no women-sized men to be on stage with the girls, but I think we worked around that fairly well. The show is really about women, the male lead we could easily gender-bend, and the important male characters were small roles anyway. So, for a musical number like the Cell Block Tango, we knew we could just give the illusion that a woman-sized man was there by using shadows or pretending he was off-stage, OR that we could have one of the other girls dress like a man for a few seconds while the main girl delivered her monologue, shrank him, and then we could use a little bit of theatre magic like smoke or lighting so she could pick up the tiny male actor who was actually playing that character and make you think it was him all along.
And I think a lot of people agree that it works very well…. Now, you mentioned that a lot of songs you parodied that first night ended up in the show, but can you tell us what all you changed from the first draft to the final draft?
SC: To be honest, we didn’t change a whole lot, and that’s mainly because when I finished the first draft, it didn’t feel like a first draft. It felt like I had already done the rewrite because the original Chicago musical was really the first draft. The only big change we made was the idea that the girls shrank the tiny men instead of them starting out shrunken, and that was still on the first night after we started taking this adaptation seriously.
Well, it sounds like you guys had a great time making this thing together. The last question I want to ask you before I let you go is… do you have another adaptation you’re writing currently?
SC: Not at the moment. Right now, I’m enjoying the success of our adaptation of Chicago, but I know the show won’t go on forever, and Holly has already hinted at a few shows she wants me to write for her, but as of right now, I don’t have anything on my plate except for interviews and enjoying some vacation time. I’m sure it won’t be too much longer until I start writing again though, and I’m sure I’ll have Holly in mind for one role or another!
Not only did I get a chance to chat with the writer of the show, but after I saw the musical for myself, I also got the chance to talk with Holly Grace, the star of the show who plays “Roxie”, and also helped Susan re-imagine it.
Holly, you’ve done the show over a hundred times now. Do you still enjoy doing the show?
Holly Grace: I absolutely love the doing the show, and it helps that the audience loves the show too. When we first started doing rehearsals, almost none of us could keep a straight face, but I will admit that by the time we started doing dress rehearsals it was like “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this joke a million times.” So, it did stop being funny for a while, but the first night we got on stage and saw the audience rolling in their seats laughing, it made all of us want to laugh with them because the jokes suddenly became funny again. That’s why I love the fact that we start the show with “All That Azz”. If one of us doesn’t really want to do a show that night, as soon as we go out and perform “All That Azz”, that person’s attitude quickly changes as they hear the audience loving our show before the opening song even ends.
What is it about that song that you think audiences love so much?
HG: It’s funny. Plain and simple. The purpose of the song is to sell the image of a tiny man between a girl’s butt cheeks and how big our butts look to a guy. I think that’s something girls always forget, because to us, they’re just our butts. To guys on the other hand, they are these giant, wobbly things which have two enormous jiggley, curved walls with a massive crevice that they can fit inside of, and that’s what’s funny. What a guy must see when he sees a girl’s butt and the feeling of being between these two squishy walls that are gigantic to him, but to us, they’re only our butt cheeks. That’s why it’s so great that we constantly sing “And all that azz”. We beat the audience’s head over and over reminding them how much ass we have when seen through the eyes of tiny men. Even girls with tiny butts actually have big booties! It’s really just a comical song that points out that, to men, our butts must be a very scary sight.
As well as a very unpleasant smell!
HG: Very true, but we don’t mention that certain aspect too much in that particular song. Susan wanted that song to really just focus on the imagery of just these giant bulbs of flesh women have and a tiny man trapped between them. Subconsciously, part of why “All that azz” is funny is because the women in the audience are still very aware that butts smell and are gross, but what the song really sells is the comedic imagery. Susan was worried that as we painted this picture for the audience, if we brought up the smell, then girls would start to imagine our assholes too, and we wanted to ease the audience into that. That’s why we wait until “The Cell Block Tango”. That’s when each of the girls tell the audience about how they were wronged and why they shrank their man. The joke used to be the ridiculous reasons of why each girl murdered her man, but now the joke is the ridiculous reasons why they all think their man deserved to be shrunken down to a size where he could fit between her cheeks.
I love a line from that song in particular, where the guy bought her roses to make up for what he did to her, and the girl turns it on him by saying that she was glad to see how much he likes roses, because he was going to be spending a lot of time smelling hers.
HG: Me too! And that was just another way we eased the audience into the idea, along with several other jokes that kept getting raunchier and raunchier, which was necessary considering that towards the end of the song there was a line from the original show that goes “That dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum.”
That’s a line from the original show?
HG: Yes! Most people forget that, but that’s just one of the many strange ways why this show works. Of course, the original context was that the men were lazy or worthless, but in this rendition, Mona sets all the girls up by ending her speech with “I stuck him in” and then the girls sing “That dirty bum, bum, bum, bum, bum.” with each girl turning her butt towards the audience on the word “bum.”
MH: I can’t believe that’s a line from the original show. It fits so perfectly with the reinvention!
HG: That line is actually what helped us shape that song. It fit so perfectly we had to keep it in, but we also had to set it up by talking about buttholes and smells. We didn’t want the audience to think these girls had hygienic issues, so we just remind the audiences why butts are normally dirty. It’s a butt. They’re supposed to not smell great and be a little dirty, which is why the girl sticks her tiny man back there. Again, one of the big things we had to always remember when re-imaging this show was how we should be easing our audience into this absurd form of punishment.
Eventually you do finish easing the audience in though. By the time you sing the song that used to be called “Mr. Cellophane” you’re completing done easing them in and really hit the peak of your performance, and yet, I heard that song almost didn’t make it in the show. Is that true?
HG: It is. Susan had planned on cutting that song out from the beginning because it was sang by a male character, who was singing about himself, and it seemed like there was no way to do it without having the tiny man sing it. Susan knew the script would be a harder sell if we planned on using one of those expensive micro mics for a guy to use, and it would have made absolutely no sense if she wrote it where a woman sang it about herself. That was one of my favorite songs though, so I begged her to come up with an idea to make it work. Eventually, she came up with an idea and decided my character, Roxie, would sing it about her tiny husband.
And then it was much easier to parody?
HG: Surprisingly no. It was probably the hardest song because we wanted it to be funny, while giving it a familiar vibe and trying to keep the same emotion to it. It was probably the most difficult song in the entire show for us to remake.
WARNING: The rest of the interview contains a big spoiler. Due to the nature of this particular spoiler, the rest of the article gets a little more graphic and serious.
Now, I want to talk more about this song because I think it’ll be very interesting for those of us who have already seen the show, but for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, tell us a little bit more about it.
HG: Right before the song starts, Roxie’s husband visits her in jail after being talked into it by their lawyer, Betty Flynn. While he’s visiting Roxie, he ends up shrinking right in front of her because of a little something their lawyer slipped in his drink before he visits Roxie. After that, I pick up the tiny actor that plays my husband and I walk around talking to him, and that’s when the song starts. The song, which used to be called “Mr. Cellophane”, is now called “Mr. Suppository” and it’s still about how Roxie’s husband completely goes unnoticed, but she’s the one who’s singing it and she doesn’t hold back. The purpose of the song originally was to chuckle at a guy who’s had a lot of misfortune, but also to feel sorry for him, and I think we do a good job of staying true to that. We get the audience to laugh as his wife compares him to a suppository, but we also get the audience to pity him because of that same fact, and also because she tells him that no one will even notice he’s gone once she hides him away from the rest of the world.
I want to go ahead and read a few lyrics from that song. Now, this is one that you repeat many times “Suppository, Mr. Suppository, it’s your new life story, Mr. Suppository. Because they could walk right by me, with you inside me, and never know you’re up there.” At the very end of the song you repeat these lyrics one more time, and as you do so, you turn your back to the audience, pull your pants down, bend over, and as you sing the very last line slowly, you spread your cheeks and make it look as though you stick your husband up your anus, just like you sang you would and actually turn him into “Mr. Suppository”. A lot of people want to know, do you actually do it?
HG: Yes, and I try really hard to make sure the audience can visibly see it! He’s so small it’s hard for someone to tell, but that’s also why I pause in the middle of it. I stick him halfway in, let the audience watch him struggle for a second, then push him the rest of the way in!
Really? So it’s not theatre magic? An illusion of some sort?
HG: We could have faked it, but we would have lost the visual element of it and I think people would have assumed it didn’t happen, but it’s so much more jaw dropping to watch me actually do it. We hope more of the audience can see it happen than can’t because it’s such a powerful moment in the show. This tiny guy, who you were feeling so sorry for, just got pushed up the main character’s anus, and he was told that no one would ever find him, not because it was such a good hiding spot, but because no one is going to even care enough to ask what happened to him. That’s the biggest moment where the entire theatre goes silent.
When did you know that was going to happen?
HG: When Susan was about half way through writing the play she told me that she thought it would make sense to have a scene where that happens. Since we had an entire show dedicated to the idea of shrunken guys being between butt cheeks, Susan thought it only made sense to eventually take it to the next step for one of the girls by keeping a tiny man in her ass much deeper than just her crack. She had no idea who was going to do it though until she rewrote “Mr. Cellophane”.
And why was it Roxy and her husband were chosen?
HG: Because even in the original musical, Roxy treated her husband worse than any of the girls treated any other man, because what Roxy did was emotional damage, not just physical. The reason that scene pulls on your heart’s string so much, is because Roxy’s husband, who truly loves her, is only seen in her eyes as someone who’s not worth a damn thing to her or anyone else. I think that’s why people aren’t appalled by that scene, because they feel the pain, not of someone who’s being tortured by an evil woman, but the pain of loving someone, only to have them betray you so they can show how lowly they think of you. That’s why the audience isn’t grossed out, because they’re not in the mind of a man who’s shuddering at the thought of being in a gigantic, dirty orifice. They’re in the mind of a man who knows the woman he loves thinks so poorly of him that she doesn’t even hesitate to keep him in the same hole her waste comes out of because that how she sees him. He’s a waste.
And I think that’s why it’s probably the most intense parts of the show, not just because of the shock of seeing it, but also feeling the emotion to it.
HG: Well, I think they’re intertwined. I feel like you wouldn’t have that emotional shock if you didn’t have the imagery of the real shrunken man to go along with it, which is why we don’t “fake” sticking him up there.
So, what’s your relationship with the shrunken man who plays your husband in the show?
HG: Well, when the show finally went into production, I wasn’t just happy to be working again, but I was also really excited because I hadn’t gotten the chance to work with a man since college because of the shrinking epidemic, which was almost ten years ago. So, the first day of rehearsal I really wanted to introduce myself, but by the time I got there I realized that no matter how politely I told him who I was, all he would hear is “Hi, I’m the girl who will be shoving you up my butthole!”
I take it you’re not friends then?
HG: Well, as I’m sure you know, in this day and age it’s hard for any girl and guy to be friends because of the size difference, because men have fewer rights than women, and because of all the normal gender differences. But then when you also have to add the fact that the tiny guy constantly has to smell, and probably even taste what comes out the back end of the female lead, there’s not a great chance they’ll end up being friends. You can edit this out if you want, but the joke all of the girls have been making since we started working with the tiny men in Chicago is that no matter how many egotistical divas have graced the stage before us, the men in this show have had to put up with more shit from the girls in this musical than anyone else has ever had to!
I can easily see why that would keep you from getting to know each other at first, but hasn’t he gotten used to it considering how much time he’s spent in your backside?
HG: (Laughing) I don’t think that’s something that a tiny man honestly gets used to. I guess it has gotten a little bit better since the first day because it was probably such a shock the first time it happened. I didn’t know this until I did this show, but in the current theatre world, we don’t usually tell the men what they’re doing until we’re at rehearsal blocking the scene they’re in. It’s not like we print tiny scripts for them, and it’s not like we give them any kind of creative control. They’re more along the lines of props that we can make run around if needed. Had I known that, I probably would have introduced myself, because I really don’t think he or even of the other men knew at first how they were going to be used, but they certainly knew by the end of that rehearsal! The first two songs we blocked were “All the Azz” and “Cell Block Tango.” If the men didn’t understand how they were going to be used by the end of “All That Azz”, I think they certainly knew at some point during “Cell Block Tango” because that’s the song where the girls where six different girls take turns giving a small monologue during the song about how they committed the exact same crime Roxie did. The tiny guys had to have noticed a pattern by the third or fourth monologue, because it always ended with the girl putting her tiny scene partner in her butt. So, the rest of the guys had to know getting introduced to a big booty was going to be in their very near future! I’m just not sure if it was worse for the guys who found out what his role would be by coming face to face with with some giant, female booty, or if it was worse for the guys who realized they would be next. Of course, as you know, my tiny scene partner gets the worst of it. I can only imagine how much worse that first day got for him when we ended rehearsal by blocking Mr. Suppository. Even if he listened to me sing the lyrics, he probably didn’t know he was actually going to have to go inside until I started sliding him in. It’s probably not as bad now that I’ve done it so many times. He knows it’s coming and knows pretty well by now what it’s like in there, so I imagine that helps him mentally prepare for it, but I don’t actually know. I’ve never had a real conversation with him.
HG: Well, I told you why I didn’t introduce myself at first, but even after that, I decided it was best not to get friendly with each other.
And why was that?
HG: One of the reasons I didn’t want to was because I was afraid that if I ended up liking him and becoming friends, it would become hard for me to treat him the way I do in the show. That was more of the minor reason though. The big reason was because of the fact that you usually have to hold tiny guys in front of your face to try just to hear what they’re saying, and I didn’t want him to try and chat with me if he just came out of my butt because then I’d have the awkward moment of telling him I don’t want to talk to him since that would mean I would have to be smelling my asshole. It would just be so weird after that because I would basically be saying “I don’t want to smell a part of my own body that you constantly have to smell and be inside of.” I feel like that would be like telling him that I think I’m better than him.
Do you not sometimes think that you are though? Here’s a guy you constantly are keeping between your butt cheeks and is constantly having to breathe in the scent of your rear end instead of fresh air, but if the government wasn’t making him work, he probably wouldn’t be doing this job. This might be a little too graphic, but you’re literally sticking this man in a hole that your feces comes out of, and he has no choice in the matter. How can you still think of him as an equal?
HG: I feel like women and men are still somewhat equal, but just in different ways. I guess you could say I believe in equity, because from the beginning of time we’ve always known there were differences physically, and that rings truer than ever since the Global Shrinking Epidemic. Men are much less capable to do things than women, so we have to find ways they can contribute. It’s just balancing the scales. Men have to work and do jobs just like everyone else. If they didn’t, and we just took care of them while acting like they were all helpless beings that couldn’t participate in modern society, then I think that would be sexist and unfair. The other joke the girls in the show make is that every guy in the workforce is forced to do their job, but this is the only job where men also have to brownnose their female co-workers!
I know we’re running out of time, but since you bring that up, what do you think of the women who claim the artistic community is abusing their power to mistreat men and that this show promotes taking men’s rights away?
HG: My first response is that art is supposed to challenge you and make you think, so I’m okay with any kind of message or theme of a show because I believe in freedom of speech, even when I disagree with it. However, to say that our show has some sort of an agenda against men’s rights is ridiculous. The whole show is about women going to prison over what they did to the men. We definitely poke fun of men in this show, but we also have a lot of female characters we make fun of for making dumb choices or ridiculous decisions. Also, the original show was about murdering men, and if you think the writers were advocating women to kill men, then I think you don’t get art. That’s what this is at the end of the day. It’s art. That’s why we do things in this show you wouldn’t do in the normal workplace. You’re not going to deliver a Shakespeare monologue to a customer over the phone, and we’re not going to crunch numbers on stage to marginalize quarterly profits. The theatre and the office are two very different things, and the way we use men are very different. Theatre is used to stimulate the brain, and we do that every night we perform through comedy, raw emotion, and making you think.
Speaking of stimulation, I hope you don’t mind this final question, but a lot of women are wondering about the stimulation of tiny men considering the locations they go. I understand if that’s a little too personal.
HG: No, it’s fine. I think it’s an understandable question because it’s very complex. I think for all of us it wasn’t necessarily stimulating in a sexual way, but certainly a rush. The actress who plays Betty Flynn repeatedly said that in the song “All I Care About” felt like an orgy since she just had a bunch of tiny men all over her body kissing and worshiping her, but eventually it just goes away and becomes mundane and part of the routine. Before this show, I wasn’t used to sticking anything up my bottom, and although it took a while to get used to, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even hardly notice him when he’s up there. During this whole interview I forgot that he was still in there until he started moving around a few moments ago.
Wait… so he’s in there right now? He’s been with us this whole time?
HG: Yes! During rehearsal we tried to figure out a way to get him out during the show, but right after I sing “Mr. Suppository” we go straight into my trial scene, then the ending, and then into bows. That’s why, if you noticed, tonight during bows every girl holds her tiny guy in her hand when she bows except me, because mine isn’t in my hand since there’s no time for me to sneak off stage and get him out. Then I have to handover props, do wardrobe, remove makeup, and a lot of after show things that just feels like a whirlwind as we all try to wrap everything up and go home. I may have even accidentally taken him home once or twice. Like I said, it’s so routine that he’s up there that I don’t even really notice him in there, and so if I get done with my post-show routine and then look around to see if I’ve gotten everything done, I just leave forgetting about him since I can’t see him. Then I have to text Janet, the handler for all the men, and if she’s already left the theatre then I just have to hold onto him and show up to the theatre two hours earlier than normal so they can thoroughly clean him before he goes on stage. I know he technically gets the shorter end of that straw, but with all the makeup and prepping I have to do, followed by a show, and then sometimes interviews, coming in even earlier kind of sucks.
Well, I guess I should let you two go then! Sounds like you still have a lot left to do tonight before you go home!
HG: I do! It’ll take me at least another hour before I can finally go home! Thank you!
Whether your love or hate the new version of “Chicago”, there’s no denying its wild success. Some theatre companies have already picked up on that and are trying to bring in other shows that are similar to “Chicago”. One is premiering next week at the Admiral Theatre called “Bootyque”. The name is obviously trying to catch the eyes of the same people who enjoyed “Chicago” by using the word ‘booty’ in the title, and the synopsis of the play makes it sound very familiar to a story we’ve already heard.
“Bootyque” is the story of Celicia, who runs a small shop for women. The front of the store is filled with women’s clothing and jewelry, but there’s an an empty room in the back of the store that has the power to shrink men. Once the store owner is paid, she’ll show the male victim to the backroom and shrink him. Then the shrunken man who was in the the back of the store, will suddenly find himself in the back of the girl’s panties that he came in with after the store owner drops him inside. Cecilia will give the customer a pat on the butt, and out the door she’ll go. The female customers have the choice of bringing the men back to turn them to normal, free of charge if they only wanted to teach the man a lesson, but most girls never return, satisfied with their purchase and the man’s new location.
Although the story has many of the same types of jokes and theme “Chicago” has, it’s also said to have a very interesting and unique story about the main character Celicia, and how she came up with her special service for her female costumers. The play also doesn’t have the burden of trying to recreate a story that’s already been told, or match things for a re-imagining. It’s a brand new story from the ground up and had more freedom to tell it’s story, which is why some critics are giving it more praise than “Chicago” due to how fresh and new it feels.
Whether it’s a remake like “Chicago”, or a brand new play like “Bootyque”, the theatre world has finally found new ways to tell stories that relates to us in the new world. Women around can finally enjoy going out to the theatre once again, and if this trend sticks around, the men of this world whose shadows we used to find ourselves in, might have to come to terms with the fact that the world has shifted. As strong, powerful women lead the way, men are now the ones behind us, and thanks to the theatre world, he might find himself behind a girl in more ways than one.
This presentation was brought to There She Grows by Newschool2626. Click here to read his interview!
All Rights Reserved.
2 thoughts on “The Girls Behind the New ‘Chicago’ By Meredith Hubbard”
I liked the story very much. Thanks for writing it.