In late 1920s Chicago, Illinois, jazz star VELMA KELLY sings and performs as a dramatic scene unfolds: ROXIE HART, a married woman, has come home with her boyfriend, FRED CASELY. Fred tries to end the affair, but Roxie becomes enraged, shooting him in cold blood ("All That Jazz").
Three hours later, Officer FOGARTY and the police arrive, and Roxie convinces her husband AMOS to lie and say that he killed the "burglar" - when really, he arrived home and heard the story from Roxie. She sings her husband's praises - until a policeman reveals the man's identity and Amos recognizes Fred Casely, the man who sold them their furniture, and certainly no burglar ("Funny Honey"). Amos realizes his wife lied to cover up her affair, and he turns against her. In a fit of rage, Roxie confesses to the affair and the murder. She is taken away by the police.
At the Cook County Jail, six "merry murderesses," including Velma, LIZ, ANNIE, JUNE, MONA, and HUNYAK - who insists she is not guilty - tell their bloody tales ("The Cell Block Tango"). Then, the Keeper of the Keys MATRON "MAMA" MORTON introduces herself, reminding the women that she's willing to do them favors if they do favors for her ("When You're Good to Mama"). As Mama introduces Roxie to her fellow prisoners, she asks about Roxie's defense for the trial. Roxie doesn't have one, so Mama suggests the best criminal lawyer in Chicago, BILLY FLYNN. After a bit of sweet-talking, Roxie convinces Amos to foot the lawyer's very expensive bill.
For his part, Billy insists that his motives are pure ("All I Care About"), yet when Amos meets with him it becomes clear that Billy intends to get every bit of money and publicity possible out of the case. Billy rewrites the story of Roxie's life, casting her as an innocent girl swept up by life in the big city. There is one pivotal point of the story that Billy drives home to reporters: Fred reached for the gun, and Roxie, in self-defense, did too ("We Both Reached for the Gun").
The REPORTERS love the story, including famed columnist MARY SUNSHINE, and Roxie is thrilled with her newfound fame ("Roxie"). Velma, realizing she is yesterday's news, desperately pitches an idea to Roxie: why don't the two of them do a double act when they get out? ("I Can't Do It Alone"). Roxie rejects the idea. When Billy drops Roxie for a hot new case - pineapple heiress KITTY, who killed her boyfriend HARRY and his girlfriend after finding them together - Roxie realizes that fame fades quickly. She and Velma lament their lost spotlight ("My Own Best Friend"). However, Roxie has a plan: she faints. When she "comes t," she informs Billy and the reporters that she is going to have a baby.
Reporters swarm Roxie as she thoroughly enjoys the frenzy her announcement has caused ("Me and My Baby"). Amos excitedly proclaims himself the father, but no one seems to notice. He sadly muses that no one ever seems to notice him ("Mister Cellophane").
Billy visits the jail to meet with Roxie, but runs into Velma, who is also his client. She tells Billy that she has been practicing what she will do for her trial, and she shows him her routine ("When Velma Takes the Stand"). Meanwhile, Roxie has been practicing her own trial routine, and she confesses to Billy that she is nervous. Billy advises her to "razzle dazzle" the courtroom ("Razzle Dazzle"). Roxie does just that, and the jury finds her not guilty.
The trial's conclusion leaves Roxie disappointed as the crowd rushes off to the next big scandal; she was hoping this would be her big break. However, she's quickly thrust back in the spotlight when she teams up with Velma, performing a new act that takes Chicago by storm ("Nowadays"). The two "scintillating sinners" become stars ("Finale").
VELMA KELLY: Female, 25-40 (Range: Alto, E3-D5)
Vaudville performer who is accused of murdering her sister and husband. Hardened by fame, she cares for no one but herself and her attempt to get away with murder.
ROXIE HART: Female, 20-30 (Range: Mezzo-Soprano, F3-B4)
Reads and keeps up with murder trials in Chicago, and follows suit by murdering her lover, Fred Casely. She stops at nothing to render a media storm with one goal: to get away with it.
FRED CASELY: Male, 30-50 (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Roxie’s short lived lover. Murdered for trying to leave Roxie.
SERGEANT FOGARTY: Male, 35-55 (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Assigned to Roxie’s case. After asking the right questions, he manages to get Roxie to confess.
AMOS HART: Male, 30-50 (Range: Baritone, C3-F#4)
Roxie’s faithful husband. Lies for her and tries to take the blame until he realizes that he has been two-timed by Roxie. Still in love with her, or misguided, he believes anything she says in her pursuit to get out of jail.
LIZ: Female, 18-45 (Range: Ensemble, A3-C#5)
Prisoner at Cook County Jail. She is imprisoned after shooting two warning shots into her husband’s head.
ANNIE: Female, 18-45 (Range: Ensemble, A3-C#5)
Prisoner at the Cook County Jail. Murder’s her lover after finding out he already has six wives. “One of those Mormons, ya’ know.”
JUNE: Female, 18-45 (Range: Ensemble, A3-C#5)
Prisoner at Cook County Jail. After her husband accuses her of screwing the milk man, he mysteriously runs into her knife ten times.
HUNYAK: Female, 25-45 (Range: Non-Singing Role)
Hungarian Prisoner at Cook County Jail. The only English she speaks is the phase, “Not Guilty.” Which follows her to her grave.
MONA: Female, 18-45 (Range: Ensemble, A3-C#5)
Prisoner at Cook County Jail. Murders her lover after he has a round of affairs with other woman, and an occasional man. I guess you could say it was “artistic differences.”
MARTIN HARRISON: Male, 35-55 (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Ensemble member who doubles as the Master of Ceremonies at times.
MATRON "MAMA" MORTON: Female, 30-50 (Range: Alto, F#3-Bb4)
Leader of the prisoners of Cook County Jail. The total essence of corruption. Accepts bribes for favors from laundry service to making calls to lawyers. “When you’re good to Moma, Moma’s good to you.”
BILLY FLYNN: Male, 35-50 (Range: Baritone Bb2-G4)
Established lawyer who hasn’t lost a woman’s case yet. Master of media manipulation who will get a girl off the hook as long as she can fork up the hefty $5,000 fee.
MARY SUNSHINE: Female, 25-55 (Range: Soprano, Bb3-Bb5)
Sob sister reporter from the Evening Star. Believes there is a little bit of good in everyone and will believe anything she is fed that matches her beliefs.
GO-TO-HELL-KITTY: Female, 21-40 (Range: Ensemble, A3-C#5)
Steals the spotlight when she Murders her husband along with three other woman. Her crimes are labeled “Lake Shore Drive Massacre.”
HARRY: (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Murdered by Go-To-Hell Kitty for sleeping around with three women behind her back.
AARON: (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Court appointed lawyer for Hunyak. He tries to get her to confess to speed along the trial.
JUDGE: Male, 40-65 (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Judge overseeing Roxie’s Trial.
COURT CLERK: (Range: Ensemble/Part Flexible)
Swears people in with their hand on the bible. “Blah, Blah, Truth, Truth. Selp-you God.”