Voice Recorders And Journalism


By 1929 it looks like most of the sound recording systems were most popularly used for entertainment purposes and music recording. Edison was the leader in recording sound. In 1912 he got recording time up to 4 minutes while also reducing noise for a better acoustic sound. From what I can understand, the recording devices were bulky and required a lot of hands-on operation. If you recall the scene from the courtroom in the movie version of Chicago, Mary Sunshine does speak into a recording device. I believe this would work in that instance because the press has a large set up to cover Roxie’s trial proceedings. There would have certainly been a crew with her to set up and maintain the equipment. Reporting on the streets was a very “each man for himself” kind of affair. Reporters would show up, usually to the police station, with a notepad and a pen or pencil to write notes. Even two reporters from the same newspaper were competitive and rarely spoke to each other at press conferences and such for the sake of delivering their own story. Genevieve Forbes was known for keeping to herself and getting the job done.


Schoenherr, Steve. “Recording Technology History.” Audio Engineering Society. Audio Engineering Society, 6 July 2005. Web. 30 Jan. 2016. <http://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/recording.technology.history/notes.html&gt;.

Perry, Douglas. The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago. New York: Viking, 2010. Print.


Yellow Journalism

“We Both Reached For The Gun” is an entire number about the ability to persuade the press and the press’s complete lack of fact-checking. In America, we know this all too well, especially right now. How many times have you scrolled through Facebook to see a really enticing article that evokes a real and intense response? Everyone has had that moment, and no doubt some of those headlines have come from really unreliable sources, The Onion anyone? Or how about standing in line at the grocery store and scanning the magazine headlines? The National Inquirer, anyone?  How many articles have you seen for or against Trump or Obama? Most of those articles carry a specific agenda even if they come from a “reliable source.” Overall, yellow journalists are experts at fake news and alternative facts.

Yellow Journalism usually has some kind of agenda. In terms of Chicago,  the press is totally invested in everything that “Roxie” says, especially Mary Sunshine. Mary Sunshine is based off of the journalist Genevieve Forbes who worked at the Chicago Tribune with Chicago creator, Maurine Watkins. Her agenda was to push the stories of the Lady Killers. These women’s lives and livelihoods depended on the image that people like Genevieve portrayed through the papers.

So as you polish up “We Both Reached For The Gun,” think about how this number sets up the way the press is used throughout the rest of the musical.

Devyn, there is more about Genevieve Forbes on the page “Notable Crimes, Cases, and People.”


McCoy, Terrence. “For the ‘new Yellow Journalists,’ Opportunity Comes in Clicks and Bucks.”The Washington Post. WP Company, 20 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/for-the-new-yellow-journalists-opportunity-comes-in-clicks-and-bucks/2016/11/20/d58d036c-adbf-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html?utm_term=.d97a1d73c6d2&gt;.


Here are some period videos of circuses doing the same kinds of acts that are demonstrated in “Razzle Dazzle.”

Just a side note, clowns are not scary. Historically, and theatrically, clowns are not a device for scary stuff.








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Spencer and Sierra, here is a photo of a press corp in the 1920’s. You can see one large film camera to the left and the rest are photo camera mounted on tripods. I had some trouble finding a group photo of this specifically from 1929, but the photos of the cameras themselves are from the year, but the long accordian style zoom are characteristic of the cameras from about 1928 to 1933 when Kodak started making smaller cameras that were very popular and easy to move. The Vanity Camera came in five colors. The last two photos are the Voigtlander Avus Folding Press Camera. As in the Kodak, you can see that the lens folds like an accordion into the body of the camera, giving it that large presence. I think we’ve been thinking of the camera as being large, bulky cameras, but these newer models were designed for mobility, especially for the press, keeping in mind the need to zoom, which is where the length comes from. If you need any more specifics, I know a guy who I could get you in touch with, he used to be the university photographer and has a large knowledge of historic cameras.



“Vanity Kodak Camera at Historic Camera – History Librarium.” Vanity Kodak Camera at Historic Camera – History Librarium. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium2/pm.cgi?action=app_display&app=datasheet&app_id=611&gt;.

Hunyak Translation

Here is the translation of Hunyak’s lines in “Cell Block Tango.”

“How did I find myself here? They say my famous lover (neigbor?) held down my husbans and I cut his head off. But it’s not true. I am innocent. I don’t know why Uncle Same says I did it. I tried to explain at the police station but they didn’t understand.”

Ferri,Josh.”What Is Hunyak the Hungarian Saying During Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”?” BroadwayBox.com. N.p., 18 Dec. 2015. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.


Sarah asked me to create a collection of reference photos so you can begin to think of how your hair will be styled. Roxie, Velma, Billy, Mama, and Amos can expect to be styled more true-to-period; Ensemble and Dancers can expect to retain more of a sleek, contained, Fosse look. Sexy hair for everyone! The only wigs that will be used in the show are for Velma and Veronica. I imagine the actor playing Veronica will be taking the wig off after Cell Block, but that is a Sarah question that she will address with you one-on-one.

*UPDATE: Here is a wide variety of styles predominately from the 1920s. The “Fosse” styles are the contemporary photos, mainly featuring slicked hair, especially in buns. As you can see from most of the photos, there is the Pinterest mignifyglass icon in the corner. I have a board entitled  “Chicago Research” where most of these are featured. If you want, you can add me on Pinterest with the name Kathryn Burrell.

Newspapers and Headlines

Spencer, here are the research images for the newspaper. I’ve included some of the actual pages covering the real-life slayers who Roxie and Velma are based on. If you want any photos of them that were actually used in the press just let me know, I have some I can send your way. Also, Maurine Watkins, the original playwright, covered both “Roxie” and “Velma’s” trials. She worked for the Chicago Tribune so that might be a fun nod to her.

Historical Drama Television and Film

Here is a fun party from Boardwalk Empire where they celebrate the end of Prohibition.

A club scene not unlike the feeling of the Chicago musical.

Here is a scene where featuring Frank and Al Capone with a look into the tensions and crime that defined the city.

This is a clip from The Untouchables where Al Capone talks to the press about bootlegging and the mob.

Another scene with an epic display of Mob Power.

Trailer for Bonnie and Clyde. It does look amazing!

This version of Bonnie reminds me of Roxie, or maybe a pre-murder Velma.

Stock footage of the scene where Bonnie and Clyde met their end.

Daisy fantasizing about Chicago.

It isn’t a party if it’s not a Gatsby party.

Mmmm Clark Gable. This is totally something any of the Murderesses would do!

And a link for the full movie.

I would not walk out on the street! Please note, Gangster Squad takes place in 1948!

This scene has some of everything!

Trailer for The Cotton Club. 

An interesting scene in the club.

And the full movie! It looks really good, and even has Richard Gere!