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Marshall's Road To 'Chicago'

The huge challenge of translating a vibrant theater experience to the movie screen didn't deter novice Rob Marshall from choosing to direct "Chicago," a project that had ended in failure for several directors who went before him.

Marshall's project has been a smashing critical success. "Chicago" is already the winner of three Golden Globes, and it is considered a strong favorite to take the Best Picture in the Academy Awards.

And now "Chicago" is wowing audiences as it rolls into theaters across the country.

Marshall visited The Early Show to discuss the success of the movie and the long road to bring it to the silver screen.

While "Chicago" was a theatrical success, some studios were afraid of the inherent difficulty in translating the theater version to film. Others didn't think movie musicals are worth the effort. Also, actors mentioned in connection with a possible film, such as Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Goldie Hawn and Barbra Streisand, came and went.

The project had been foundering for a long time until Miramax acquired the rights in 1994. Rob Marshall came along with what he says was a unique idea to transform the play to the screen. The only film credential the 42-year old director and choreographer brought with him was directing the television version of the movie "Annie" starring Kathy Bates. But he had an extensive background in theater, co-directing and choreographing the musical "Cabaret" with Sam Mendes.

Marshall says it helped that Miramax's co-founder Harvey Weinstein's children loved the movie "Annie."

In transforming "Chicago" into a film, Marshall wanted to have all the dance numbers exist in one character's (Roxie) head, concurrent to another linear plot. It was a story of two different worlds, the real world and surreal world. It was an idea he could sell to Miramax.

The movie was produced with a $45 million budget, which is small for a musical. This forced Marshall and his cast to work nonstop, helping them forge a special kind of camaraderie.

The cast and crew of "Chicago" went through a grueling three-month shoot in Toronto. Marshall worked seven days a week because, despite the project's years on the drawing board, he had only two months to prep for the actual filming.

Marshall says he worked on "Chicago" until the moment it opened.

Fast Facts About Rob Marshall

  • Born in Madison, Wis., Oct. 17, 1960
  • Graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1982
  • Directed the television movie "Annie" in 1999
  • Choreographed the television movie "Cinderella" in 1997
  • In 1996, he choregraphed the television movie "Mrs. Santa Claus"
  • Some Broadway productions Marshall worked on are "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "She Loves Me," "Damn Yankees," "Encores," "Promises, Promises," and the revival of "Cabaret"