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Music Director Paul Bogaev

He supervised and conducted the music for the film adaptation of Chicago. His previous credits include the Broadway musicals Aida, Sunset Boulevard and Aspects of Love.




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Other segments from the episode on January 14, 2004

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, January 14, 2003: Interview with Rob Marshall; Interview with Paul Bogaev.


DATE January 14, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
 TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
 PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Rob Marshall discusses his movie adaptation of the
musical "Chicago"

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Today, we're talking about "Chicago," the movie adaptation of the Broadway
musical. The soundtrack has just been released. Here's Catherine Zeta-Jones
singing the opening number.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. CATHERINE ZETA-JONES: (Singing) Come on, babe, why don't we paint the
town and all that jazz. I'm going to rouge my knees and roll my stockings
down and all that jazz. Start the car, I know a whoopee spot where the gin is
cold, but the piano's hot. It's just a noisy hall where there's a nightly
brawl and all that jazz.

GROSS: My guest, Rob Marshall, is the director and choreographer of
"Chicago." It's a musical he already knew well. He directed a theatrical
revival of "Chicago" in Los Angeles. He choreographed and co-directed the
Broadway revival of "Cabaret," which, like "Chicago," has songs by John Kander
and Fred Ebb. Marshall also directed a revival of the Burt Bacharach musical
"Promises, Promises" starring Martin Short, and choreographed the Broadway
revival of "Damn Yankees."

"Chicago" is set in the '20s during the Prohibition era. Renee Zellweger
plays Roxie Hart, who dreams of singing and dancing her way out of poverty and
into stardom. She's cheating on her husband with a man who says he has
contacts and can pull strings to get her booked into a nightclub. When she
finds out he's lying, she shoots him. In prison, she meets Velma Kelly, a
nightclub star who found her husband cheating on her with her sister, so she
shot them both. Velma is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Richard Gere plays
the slick lawyer who turns Roxie's case into a media circus. In the scene
where Roxie first lands in jail, the women prisoners explain why they've
killed their husbands and lovers in a song and dance called the "Cell Block

I asked Rob Marshall to compare his choreography for the "Cell Block Tango"
with Bob Fosse's, who did the original 1975 Broadway production.

Mr. ROB MARSHALL (Director-Choreographer): You know, on stage, originally,
Bob Fosse did it with these wonderful jail bars that--they each had their own
set of jail bars that they would move around the stage in wonderful patterns
and stomp the jail bars on the floor and so forth. And I wanted to try
something completely different, so I came up with the idea of having them
actually tango with their victims. And so I brought men into the piece and so
that they could sort of throw them around and be abusive to the men that had
abused them. And so that whole idea, by bringing the men into it, led me down
a completely different path. I could actually do a tango, and so I didn't
feel like I had to follow in the footsteps of the original concept of the
number, so I tried to, with each number, reconceive the number, so I, you
know, didn't find myself, you know, having this ghost of Fosse over me.

GROSS: Why don't we hear a little bit of the song "He Had It Coming," in
which the women who killed their husbands or lovers are explaining why they
did it.

(Soundbite of music)

Group of Cell Mates (In Unison): (Singing) He had it coming.

Unidentified Actress #1: (Singing) I met Ezekiel Young from Salt Lake City
about two years ago, and he told me he was single, and we hit it off right
away. So we started living together. He'd go to work, he'd come home. I'd
fix him a drink. We'd have dinner. And then I found out. `Single,' he told
me. Single my ass. Not only was he married, oh, no, he had six wives. One
of those Mormons, you know. So that night, when he came home for work, I
fixed him his drink as usual. You know, some guys just can't hold their

Group of Cell Mates (In Unison): (Singing) He had it coming. He had it
coming. He took a flower in its prime. And then he used it, and he abused
it. It was a murder, but not a crime.

Unidentified Actress #2: (Singing) Now I'm standing in the kitchen carvin' up
the chicken for dinner, minding my own business. In storms my husband

GROSS: That's the cell block tango, "He Had It Coming" from "Chicago." My
guest is director and choreographer of the new film adaptation, Rob Marshall.

Your choreography for this sequence is very--you know, it's a tango, and
there's something very, you know, almost sadomasochistic about the way it's
choreographed, and also in the way that everybody is dressed. How intentional
is that? I mean, what kind of look are you going for there?

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, I have this incredible costume designer, Colleen Atwood,
who had a real--you know, amazing skills as a designer, has done most of the
Tim Burton films, and has a wild imagination and such taste. And you know,
obviously, she had to, you know, design in two different worlds. One was our
vaudeville world. One was our real world. And the vaudeville world, you
know, there's a great deal of flexibility there and range, because it takes
place in her mind. So, you know, I remember for that specific number, Colleen
found this beautiful 1920s portrait of this woman who was in these sort of
strappy kind of--I don't even know what you call it, sort of a leotard-type
thing, but it was really risque. I mean, you know, the clothes then were
really unbelievably risque that women rarely wore bras. It was short skirts.
It was really sort of a female empowerment time. And, you know, she found
this great strappy kind of thing, and I think that sort of became the--that
actual photograph from the early '20s became sort of our idea for this number.
And, you know, yeah, I mean, it's a very aggressive number. It--you know,
it's violent in a way, but still satirical, I think, too.

GROSS: Let me be more blunt about the costumes. I mean, the women are
wearing these, like, black leather straps, basically, you know...


GROSS: ...with dark stockings and, I think--What?--like black-heeled boots

Mr. MARSHALL: Yeah. Some have boots on, yeah. There was a lot of straps.
Honestly, that came from actual pictures of the period, but it--yes,
absolutely, it has a little bit of that sadomasochism there, but sexy, too, I

GROSS: Well, speaking of sexy, the opening number, "All That Jazz," in which
Catherine Zeta-Jones is the main dancer and singer, she, too, is wearing a lot
of flimsy and revealing black leather. How do you make dance really
sexy-look--what kind of movements, to you, what style of movement says sex to

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, let me see. You know, I don't--it's funny. I don't
even think in terms of sex. You know, I think all movement is very sexual in
a way, because, you know, you're moving your body in ways that you don't
normally do. And so I think this particular number, one of the sort of
conceptual ideas behind it was, I had men and women on stage, and I really
thought of it sort of as--I hate to say this word, you know, sort of
like, you know--'cause I just met you, Terry, sort of like an orgy, you know.
The idea is that everybody on stage is sort of moving through other people,
and it was like a club within a club. In other words, you're in this club,
and it's sort of spilling out over on the stage into this club. And so I
created this little club on stage, where these men and women were moving
through each other and around each other and feeling each other. And, you
know, it's all about sort of being free and loose, which is--and, you know, I
take a lot of my inspiration from the brilliant Fred Ebb lyrics. I mean, you
hear those lyrics, you know, when you're saying, `Find a flask. We're playing
fast and loose.' And you can just start choreographing that just by hearing
those great words, so that helped me into the material.

GROSS: What do you think is the difference between what Bob Fosse found
really sexy or sensual as a choreographer and what you do?

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, you know, it's always hard to just sort of dissect
styles. I think Bob had a very specific style that came from his physicality.
I mean, he smoked, and so cigarettes were always in his numbers. He had sort
of hunched over shoulders, and so, you know, there's was always sort of a
hunch sensibility to his work. He loved--I think he was very much influenced
by Fred Astaire and Balanchine and Jack Cole, so a lot of his stuff was very
detailed small movements, a lot of isolation. I think if I had...

GROSS: By isolation, you mean, like, one shoulder moves, or one hip moves?

Mr. MARSHALL: Right, exactly. One finger moves. I would say that my style
is probably more abandoned than that, more character-driven than that. I
don't force my style, one specific style, you know, on people. I try to work
from what they have, and I also try to tell the story. So that's where my
work--that's what inspires me.

GROSS: My guest is Rob Marshall, the director and choreographer of "Chicago."
More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest is Rob Marshall. He directed and choreographed the new film
adaptation of the Broadway musical "Chicago."

Let's talk about the casting. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the star. She plays
Velma. And I didn't know until "Chicago" that she had a background in musical
theater when she was in London, and she starred in a West End production of
"42nd Street."


GROSS: I guess everybody knows that now, but very few people knew that until
"Chicago." How did you know that she had the gifts to do this? She's really
terrific in the film.

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, Marty Richards, who's our producer, had told me that
Catherine had a voice and had danced. He was a friend of theirs--theirs
meaning Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and had heard her sing at a
Christmas party. You know, it's so funny, because musicals aren't done these
days, you find yourself really doing detective work, you know, trying to
figure out, `Oh, I heard somebody did this,' or `I heard in their background
they did this.' Anyway, so Marty sort of let me know that she had done
that--you know, had sung and sounded great. And he had also told me that she
had starred in "42nd Street" in the West End.

And then I found out, you know, that as a kid, she had been in "Annie" in the
West End and "Bugsy Malone" and then started doing chorus work in "Pajama
Game" and things like that. And then I actually saw a tape of her on the
Olivia Awards doing Kurt Weill's "Street Scene." And she did a big jitterbug
number called "Moon Faced and Starry Eyed," where she sang and danced. And
that was great, because, you know, I saw everything in that dance number that
I needed to see. I mean, she was tapping and turning and kicking and being
lifted, and she also sang with such a great voice. It was sort of like, `Wow,
I didn't realize, you know, she had those gifts,' and so it was sort of the
combination of all those things that sort of let me know that she was the real

GROSS: I feel like thanking you for casting somebody in the lead who has a
little bit of flesh on her bone. She has a beautiful figure, but she doesn't
look like a skeleton, and so many dancers really do.


GROSS: And I think that really works, because she has to look pretty tough
and kind of threatening, and she's able to pull that off.

Mr. MARSHALL: I mean, I actually really love weight, you know. I love real
people. I love real people dancing. I thought she looked like a real woman.
And I love the dynamic between that and Roxie. Roxie is this waifish
wannabe, and so the dynamic between the two was so important. You know, I
really did not want to cast the same person twice, you know. I didn't want
the same gal twice. I really wanted distinctly different people playing
these roles.

GROSS: Now you cast Richard Gere in the male lead, Renee Zellweger in one of
the female leads.


GROSS: They don't really have song and dance backgrounds. Did you try to
find people who really had a background in song and dance, as well as acting?

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, with Billy Flynn, which--Richard Gere's role, he does
have a major song and dance background, it's just nobody knew about it. You
know, he played Danny Zuko in "Grease" in the West End. That was one of his
first big jobs. And then he had done a series of rock musicals before he went
into film. But nobody knows that, because musicals aren't done anymore. So,
you know, if we were living in the '40s or '50s, he would have done, you know,
six or seven musicals by now, but nobody knew of those skills. And, you know,
it's something that just rolled right off of him. I mean, he has this amazing
ability to--you know, I don't know if you know, he plays the guitar, he plays
the piano, plays the cornet, he sings every day. This is a very musical
person. It's something that he loves, but had never had the chance to do
since he was a kid, you know. So, and I--you know, 25 years or something
since he had done it.

So he was loving rediscovering it again, but--and he worked so hard. I mean,
the one thing he was not was a tap dancer, and that took--I mean, I've never
seen anybody work so hard in my life. I mean, he literally would go into a
room and curse and swear and go through, like, wet T-shirt after wet T-shirt
of sweat until, you know, he had gotten--I mean, I think he worked three
months to get where he needed to be for this tap dance, 'cause he'd never done
that before. And, you know, tap's all about rhythm, and he's a real musician,
so that part was great. It was just sort of, like, training your brain to
your feet.

And then, in terms of Roxie, I mean, Renee--that was the trickiest part to
cast. I saw, maybe, over a dozen major film actresses for that role, 'cause I
didn't know. I didn't know who had the skills and--because, like I say,
they're just not done anymore--musicals. So we started the quote, unquote,
"Scarlett O'Hara search" for Roxie. And, you know, I've worked with many
people that--you know, actors that are new to musicals. Natasha Richardson in
"Cabaret" on stage. Alan Cumming was new to musicals. Kathy Bates, when I
did "Annie," you know. I put Whoopi Goldberg into "A Funny Thing Happened On
The Way to The Forum." That was new for her. I love working with people who
are new to musicals. It's fun, for me, to work from that place, from

And, you know, with Renee, it was--she walked in, and we started working, and
I literally knew within, like, 10 seconds that she could do it, because I saw
her dance line. I saw her athletic ability immediately. I saw her sense of
style and how she could bring the character to life through movement and
through her voice. And it was, you know, like, `Hallelujah,' 'cause I
thought, `Now I have a movie.'

GROSS: In a lot of musicals from the '50s and '60s, the singing was actually
dubbed. You know, even in "West Side Story," you know, Natalie Wood is dubbed
in most of her songs.

Mr. MARSHALL: Yes, by Marni Nixon.

GROSS: Yeah.


GROSS: So did anyone suggest to you the horrible possibility of dubbing your
leading actors?

Mr. MARSHALL: You know what? I think because I come from the theater, they
know that I would have spun around and said, `No way,' because I don't want to
do--you know, it's funny. You see "My Fair Lady" now, which is such a
beautiful, beautiful movie, and Marni Nixon sounds great. But every time I
hear Audrey Hepburn open her mouth to sing and Marni Nixon comes out, it just
pulls you out of the story. It's just--it bothers me. So I just really
didn't want to do that. I didn't want to do that ever. And it's funny. A
lot of people, after the movie--after having seen, you know, the beginning
sort of, you know, test screens of the movie, were saying, `Well, obviously,
that's not Richard Gere tap dancing.' And I was, like, `Yes, it is. Every
single frame of that is Richard.' Yeah.

GROSS: Oh, but that's the thing. At the very end of the credits, there's a
credit that says that Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere
did their own singing and dancing.


GROSS: So everybody on the film must have felt that it was necessary to
actually go on the record at the end of the film and say that.

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, we did it with sort of a little bit of a sense of humor
about it because, you know, we were just saying, `How can we let people know
that these people who worked so hard to sing and dance and--you know, we went
through six weeks of rehearsal where it was, like, theatrical boot camp. And,
you know, I just wanted to make sure that they had their due, you know. And
so, we thought, `Well, you know what? We'll just--we'll put that at the end
of the movie just so people know it's the truth, but also with a little bit of
a sense of humor about it, you know.'

GROSS: Now "Chicago" was not edited like a Fred Astaire musical. In a Fred
Astaire musical, the camera pulled back, and you saw Astaire and Rogers
dance. Maybe there were a couple of edits, but basically, you saw them
dance, you saw their whole bodies as they were dancing. And everything stops
while they dance. In "Chicago," the dance numbers are very highly edited.
And I'd like you to describe your approach to editing, the thinking behind
it, the rhythm of it. I sometimes find that kind of fast-paced editing in a
production number really frustrating, 'cause you feel like you don't get to
see what anybody's doing. By the time they're finished with a movement,
you're already cutting to the next movement, and you don't really get the
pleasure of watching somebody dance. I didn't feel that frustration with the
way you edited it.

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, you know, it's a balance. You know, with this piece,
actually, I felt that the language of our concept took us there, because the
only way to tell the story was to be moving back and forth between these two
worlds. And so that energy and that language, which you set out right from
the very beginning as you're telling many different stories at once, sort of
lent us to this style of how to edit it.

You know, people have asked me, `Did you edit this because, you know, it's the
MTV generation, and you can't sit on something for that short?' And it's
like, `No, no, no.' I served this particular piece, which was being told very
specifically in two different worlds, and that's why that rhythm--you know,
it's interesting. If you set up that rhythm, if you then depart from that
rhythm, it seems odd and dishonest. And I had to experiment with lots of
things. I mean, truthfully, I could have sat on these numbers and just done a
master, and they would have been beautiful, because, you know, I come from
stage, so I know how to do that. You know, I don't have to be afraid that
it's going to sort of just sit there and look kind of dull, because I can keep
a stage moving because those are my roots, you know. And where you can't edit
on stage, you just have to sort of let it sit there in the master.

But it was very intentional, the editing that I did, because I wanted to keep
the language and the energy of the piece consistent. And because we had
created this idea that we'd be moving back and forth between these two worlds
while still telling one linear story, then that became how to serve this
piece, and that's why I chose to sort of edit it that way.

GROSS: Rob Marshall directed and choreographed the new film "Chicago."
He'll be back in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross, and this is
FRESH AIR. From the new soundtrack of "Chicago," this is Richard Gere.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. RICHARD GERE: (As Billy Flynn) Give 'em the old razzle-dazzle.
Razzle-dazzle them. Give 'em an act with lots of thrashing, and the reaction
will be passionate. Give 'em the old hocus-pocus. Bead and feather 'em. How
can they see with sequins in their eyes? What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting? Razzle-dazzle 'em, and they'll
never catch wise.

Give 'em the old razzle-dazzle. Razzle-dazzle 'em. Give 'em a show that's so
splendiferous, row after row will grow vociferous.

Mr. GERE and Unidentified Woman: Give 'em the old flimflam flummox, fool and
fracture 'em.


GROSS: Coming up, helping actors learn to sing. We talk with Paul Bogaev,
the music supervisor and conductor for the film "Chicago" about working with
Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger. And we continue our conversation with Rob
Marshall, the director and choreographer of "Chicago."

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: Five, six, seven, eight.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Rob Marshall, the
choreographer and director of "Chicago," the new film adaptation of the
Broadway musical. It was first produced on Broadway in 1975 with choreography
by Bob Fosse. One of the film's stars, Catherine Zeta-Jones, had performed in
musicals in England before coming to America. But two of the stars, Renee
Zellweger and Richard Gere, were not used to singing.

In "Chicago," you worked with some performers who are used to acting, but not
that used to singing.

Mr. MARSHALL: Right.

GROSS: And I think when an actor's really good that they can convince you
that they're a great singer, even if they're not, because they so look the
part and they act out the lyrics so well. And I'll give you an example. I
mean, like, I like Marlene Dietrich's singing, but when she's performing in a
movie, she's so spellbinding because she so inhabits that kind of sexual
persona that you almost--you're just so convinced of the personality of this
song, you know, that...

Mr. MARSHALL: Yes, yes.

GROSS: So would you just talk a little bit about working with non-singers who


GROSS: ...and what you can get from them in a singing role.

Mr. MARSHALL: It's such a great question, Terry. I mean, you know, when you
think about some of our greatest musical theater performances, you know, you
think of Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady" or you think of Yul Brynner in "King
and I" and you think of Lauren Bacall in "Applause" and, you know, I can go on
and on and on. These aren't major singers, you know? They're not going to
have an album out of just them singing, you know? I think you have to--I
mean, it's my philosophy--and I just feel you have to cast the part first, the
character. That's the most important thing. And, of course, they're going to
have to be able to sing. I mean, that's how they--but if you do it the other
way, you just cast the singer, you don't have the actor, you have a hollow
production. I've seen it so many times. In fact, in the '80s, with the sort
of influx of those sung-through musicals, you know, you see a musical and
everybody has great voices, but there's not a personality on stage, there's
not a person up there, there's not a person with color. It's all kind of just
very whitewashed, and it's very pretty and it sounds lovely, but you're not
moved in any way, shape or form.

I like the rough edges, you know? I like hearing a person sing. Now I don't
necessarily like hearing a person sing badly, and it's really great when they
can be a great actor and can sing, you know, as well. But I have to say that
I think the most important thing is that the person inhabits the character,
because I'm moved in a song not because somebody hits a high note, but I'm
moved in a song because something emotional is happening to that character,
and they're expressing it through song.

GROSS: Now...

Mr. MARSHALL: So that's sort of how I feel.

GROSS: of the performers in "Chicago" is Queen Latifah, who is an
actress who's also known for her rap recordings.


GROSS: She sings, and she sings really well in "Chicago." She also sang in
the movie "Living Out Loud," in which she played a lounge singer.


GROSS: Would you talk about directing her in her big number, which is called
"When You're Good to Mama."

Mr. MARSHALL: Well, it's interesting. She's new to...

GROSS: I should say she plays the prison warden in the women's prison...


GROSS: ...and she cuts deals with everybody.


GROSS: And the understanding is some deals are for money, probably some of
the deals are for sexual favors.

Mr. MARSHALL: Yes, exactly. That's sort of the intention. You know, she is
a performer. You know, she's a fabulous lady to work with and she comes from
rap and not necessarily sort of musical theater, but she certainly understands
performance from her days as a rapper. And it's so funny, she just has this
naturally big Broadway voice. But, you know, it was so funny, as we started
working on it, I thought, `Wow, this is--you know, where has this great talent
been, this wonderful talent? She's our Pearl Bailey,' you know? `I'd love to
see her get up there and do a Broadway musical,' because it's just in her

And it was funny, the day we were shooting it, the morning of, I completely
reblocked her song, which she wasn't too thrilled with, but, you know, I knew
I had made a mistake. You know, the most important thing for me was that I
was really serving these people and making them as great as they could be. And
I had left her on stage for the whole number, and I thought, `You know, this
is the Sophie Tucker number and, you know, Latifah's so great with interacting
with people. You know, she had her own talk show and so forth and so on. I
should get her into the audience during the number.' So the morning of, I
reblocked it, put her in the audience for most of the number, and I felt that
intimacy with the audience was something that would give her, I don't know...

GROSS: This is a very double entendre kind of song, so doing the double


GROSS: ...with the people appreciating it works.

Mr. MARSHALL: Yes, closer to them...

GROSS: Yeah.

Mr. MARSHALL: Yeah, exactly, so she would get right into their face and be
funny right there, you know?

GROSS: Right.

Mr. MARSHALL: I felt Sophie Tucker would have done that. She would have gone
out in the audience and been kind of, you know, brass and kind of, you know,
sexy and funny with--and so I thought, you know, `Change it, Rob. Do it now,'
and she was great.

GROSS: Rob Marshall directed and choreographed the new film "Chicago." From
the new soundtrack, here's Queen Latifah singing "When You're Good to Mama."

(Soundbite of "When You're Good to Mama")

QUEEN LATIFAH: (Singing) ...Mama, Mama's good to you. If you want my gravy,
pepper my ragout. Spice it up for Mama. She'll get hot for you. When they
pass that basket folks contribute to, you put in for Mama, she'll put out for
you. The folks atop the ladder are the ones the world adores. So boost me up
my ladder, kid, and I'll boost you up yours. Let's all stroke together, like
the Princeton crew. When you're strokin' Mama, Mama's strokin' you. So
what's the one conclusion I can bring this number to? When you're good to
Mama, Mama's good to you. Oh, yeah!

GROSS: Coming up, we talk with the music supervisor of "Chicago," Paul
Bogaev, about working with Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere on their singing.
This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Paul Bogaev discusses his role as music supervisor of
the film version of "Chicago"

As Rob Marshall just explained, he gave a couple of the leading roles in the
musical "Chicago" to actors who weren't singers. My guest Paul Bogaev is the
film's conductor and music supervisor. He helped Renee Zellweger and Richard
Gere find and develop their singing voices for the film. Bogaev has also been
the music director of the Broadway productions of "Aida," "Sunset Boulevard,"
"Aspects of Love" and "Starlight Express." He previously worked with Rob
Marshall on the TV adaptation of "Annie," starting Alan Cumming and Kathy
Bates. There's another credit that's on Bogaev's resume, but I think I should
mention in the interests of full disclosure he is the brother of Barbara
Bogaev, who often guest hosts FRESH AIR.

Before we talk about Paul Bogaev's vocal work with the stars of "Chicago,"
here's Renee Zellweger singing "Funny Honey."

(Soundbite of "Funny Honey")

Ms. RENEE ZELLWEGER: Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but he doesn't
care. He'll string along. He loves me so, that funny honey of mine.
Sometimes I'm down, sometimes I'm up, but he follows 'round like some
droopy-eyed pup. He loves me so, that funny honey of mine.

GROSS: I asked "Chicago's" music supervisor, Paul Bogaev, about how he
approached working with Renee Zellweger on her singing.

Mr. PAUL BOGAEV (Music Supervisor, "Chicago"): Well, the first thing that I
do is--you know, they come into my studio, which is in the place where we film
and it's a big room with a piano and some music stands, and I also have some
chairs away from the music place, away from the piano, and a sofa. And they
are prepared to start, `Oh, God, he's going to make me start singing notes or
scales,' and I take them over, you know, to the sofa, we sit down, we talk for
half an hour or a little longer. The reason I do that is everybody comes to
the table, as it were, with a different background in music. And I talked to
Renee and I said, you know, like, `What do you listen to? Where are you
from?' first, and I found out she was from Texas, which helped greatly because
the character Roxie Hart is a transplanted Texas resident who's moved to
Chicago. So she already has that, you know, regionalism that we could use.
And Renee has a slight Southern accent. And I asked her--you know, I said,
`Who do you listen to?' and she talked about blues and country. She was
totally unversed with this music, the music of the '20s, but totally eager to
immerse herself in it. Renee has a great musicality. She just had never used
her voice.

And what happened in the course of six weeks is I think she went from a
comfortable range of four notes to about almost a two-octave range, which is
16 notes, and it was a great, great surprise.

GROSS: So how did you work with Renee Zellweger on increasing her range?

Mr. BOGAEV: Well, I found a great voice teacher in Toronto named Elaine
Overholt. And she was in quite a few of the sessions with me, and we worked
technically on certain exercises away from the songs. And then I would take
the tune of the song and have Renee sing the tune of the song on a vowel or
a--(singing) me-me-me-me-me-me, me-me-me-me-me-me. That's the song "Funny
Honey"--and she would just get used to making tones like that.

I also had her speaking quite high in her range at some times. There's a
point at the end of the song which is high belt and it's extremely angry. And
in order to get those high notes like that, I had her increase her voice like
that. And she started--she did it as an actress. I do this all the time with
people, because I always want that extension from speaking into singing so it
doesn't sound like something separate.

GROSS: Well, that leads me to something I always wonder about.

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah.

GROSS: What do you think is the connection between speaking and singing?
Where is it connected, and where is it different?

Mr. BOGAEV: Well, your speaking range can be quite like your singing range.
We all have the possibility of a great amount of notes. Most people, and most
people in America--and I listen to myself, and I include myself in this--speak
in a very limited amount of notes.

I'll give you a good example. If you've ever seen Rex Harrison in the movie
"My Fair Lady," there's one point where he has a line that's--`Loud Wagnerian
mother, and a voice that shatters glass.' Well, he hits a note, a pitch,
because--in his speaking voice, that is so high, it's technically a high
B-flat. That's like Pavarotti. If you had asked him to sing that note, he
could never do it, but he actually got emotionally there with his voice.

And that--I mean, that's where you can get. It begins with speaking. I think
of singing as heightened speech. I don't think of it as something separate.
And when I see a movie, a movie musical, I loathe that problem that a lot of
people have with musicals, where they're talking and all of a sudden the
singing starts and you feel a jolt that something is different, and you
shouldn't feel that. It should feel it as just another form of expression.

GROSS: Now let's look at Richard Gere.

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah.

GROSS: What did you think were his strengths and weaknesses?

Mr. BOGAEV: Richard Gere and I have a lot in common because we're both rock
'n' rollers. He loves--he's a great musician, by the way. He plays fantastic
guitar. I think he toured with Van Morrison a few years ago, in addition to
piano and coronet. But he said (speaking in raspy voice), `Look, I haven't
sung in a long time, and I sing up here like that.' And he's scrunching his
face and pulling his neck up and doing everything wrong for this kind of
singing, which is, you know, open-throated and full.

So we had to work very much on loosening him up, loosening his jaw and
shoulders, you know, but not losing that raspy quality that, again, he brought
to the table that comes from his rock background. I didn't want him trying to
imitate some Broadway singer.

GROSS: Let's hear Richard Gere singing from the soundtrack recording of

(Soundbite of "All I Care About")

Mr. RICHARD GERE: (As Billy) (Singing) I don't care about expensive things,
cashmere coats, diamond rings. Don't mean a thing. All I care about is love.

Mr. GERE and Backup Singers: That's what I'm here for.

Mr. GERE: (Singing) I don't care for wearing silk cravats, ruby studs, satin
spats. Don't mean a thing. All I care about is love.

Backup Singers: (Singing) All he cares about is love.

Mr. GERE: (Singing) Give me two eyes of blue softly saying...

Backup Singers: (Singing) I need you.

Mr. GERE: (Singing) Let me see her standing there and honest, mister, I'm a

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. GERE: (Singing) I don't care for any fine attire Vanderbilt might admire.
No, no, not me. All I care about is love.

Backup Singers: (Singing) All he cares about is love.

Mr. GERE: (Whistling)

GROSS: That's Richard Gere singing from the soundtrack recording of
"Chicago." My guest, Paul Bogaev, supervised and conducted the music for the

Paul, what are some of the exercises that you gave Richard Gere to help him
develop the singing voice he needed for this role?

Mr. BOGAEV: Well, one of the exercises is actually a rock 'n' roll exercise,
and it's a--I call it the Tina Turner scrunch. Now I know this is radio and
it would help if I could show you this, but let me describe it. She does
something naturally--you know, Tina Turner, she uses her lower body, she
scrunches her nose up technically and she gets these incredible high notes
that don't hurt her, go right over her vocal chords and, you know, uses her
entire body and her face. And I use that with almost everybody. I used it
with Catherine for her high notes which she did not come with and for Richard
to open up.

And I did a lot of exercises with him where he would loosen his jaw, you know.
And he would hum through the song, he would do--(singing) ma-ma-ma-ma-ma--that
through all the notes instead of just going to the words.

Also, the other thing that I should tell you is I had him speak and act the
words as I played the piano. That's a separate thing. And the reason I have
them do that is I want them to be able to act the songs as if they were
monologues, as if there were no music there. I don't want them to have to
depend on the notes to carry the acting. I want to make sure that they
really, really understand the lyrics the way they understand their lines in
the film.

GROSS: So what were some of the exercises that you gave the non-singers in
"Chicago" to help them reach those high notes they needed?

Mr. BOGAEV: Well, the first thing I would start with is to get their speaking
voice up to the height and emotion that these high notes carry. And a lot of
it has to do with generating the excitement. That's why you sing high notes.
I mean, you know, it should not just be singing, you know, a pretty loud note.
There's always some kind of great excitement.

Now at the end of "All I Care About is Love," Richard's first big song, the
last statement is the height of the excitement, the climax of the song. So I
would have him take his speaking voice like this (speaking loudly), `All I
care about is love! All I care about is love!' And he would extend his
speaking voice, not try to sing, just get that feeling and get that feeling in
his body of where that goes, where it goes and, you know, where it settles in
your sinuses, in your face. And the next thing we would do would be totally
go away from that and take the note. (Singing) Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee,
on a D, or (singing) Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya! And he keeps singing that and
then put the two together.

But that was the first technical thing. It also involved relaxing his
shoulders, pulling his jaw down, relaxing every muscle in his body except his
legs, which you use as a strong base. And the other thing is all Rob
Marshall's choreography is very low-based. It's not tight. It's not like the
Fosse style. It's based low in your body. So I had a great--it was perfect.
I had the great--you know, it was a great ally for me, this style of dancing,
because I could use it in helping people sing.

GROSS: My guest is Paul Bogaev, the conductor and music supervisor of the
film, "Chicago." More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: My guest, Paul Bogaev, is the conductor and music supervisor of the
film "Chicago." He worked with the actors on their singing.

Now women's voices tend to be a little different than men's in the sense that
women's voices--you have the head voice and the chest voice...

Mr. BOGAEV: That's right.

GROSS: ...and the difficulty of negotiating the passage in between them.

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah.

GROSS: Men's voices tend to, I think, just be more chesty unless you're
singing falsetto and...

Mr. BOGAEV: Right. Right.

GROSS: ...unless you're Smokey Robinson or something.

Mr. BOGAEV: Right. Right. Exactly. Yes. Yeah.

GROSS: So is there a different technique you use for women then you do for

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah. Yeah. I don't--in the high notes, there's a thing called
a mix, which you just talked about in a way, that you try and negotiate the
head voice and the chest voice together. For example, in "All That Jazz," the
end of "All That Jazz"--(singing) No, I'm no one's wife. But, oh, I love my
life and all that jazz! (In normal voice) That's very high, that note `jazz.'

Catherine came to me with a great, big belt voice that stopped, I'd say, about
a third lower, that's three notes lower than that note, `jazz.' And the first
thing I said to her, by the way, was, `Did you listen to Shirley Bassey?' I
know she's Welsh. She said, `Did I listen? I was, like, you know, winning
contests imitating her.' So she came with that kind of big belt style. What
I did with her was I used the '20s sound which is very nasal. And, also, they
spoke like that, I think, because they didn't have microphones and they had to
project through their nasal passages. What I did with her is we did a lot of
notes up there, speaking up there. (Speaking loudly) All that jazz, jazz!
(In normal voice) She would get that in her head voice, make it nasal and all
of a sudden, she reared back one day and she just belted the whole thing as
you hear now in the soundtrack and when you see the movie.

GROSS: I think most musicals are done with the songs prerecorded and then...

Mr. BOGAEV: Oh, sure.

GROSS: lip-synch to it, particularly if it's a dance number.

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah.

GROSS: You're not singing and dancing at the same time.

Mr. BOGAEV: No, no, no, no. In fact, you are--from the beginning of time, I
think, it's always been you prerecord because of the sound quality in a studio
vs. the sound quality on a set, which is quite poor for singing. And this
has been done for years. And the trick to this, the real trick, is in the
preparation as we did. I prepared the singers knowing what the shots were
going to look like, knowing how they were going to be staged, how they were
going to breathe. For example, Renee, I think, sings a song "My Funny
Honey"--she's draped all over the piano. There's one point where she arches
her back and sings a note. And I wanted that feeling. I wanted them aware of
what it was going to look like. So when you saw them and heard these
prerecords coming out of their mouths, they had a relationship to the picture.

And then, secondary, the hard thing about lip singing is you just do not move
your lips; you really sing. You sing on the set and you breathe or else it
looks completely fake.

GROSS: Did the actors like to work hard at singing?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BOGAEV: Well...

GROSS: You know--I mean, like, are they into it?

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah. Yes, I'm laughing about it. Well, you know, do you like
going to the gym all the time? That's my criteria about it. I'm laughing
because there was one day when Renee Zellweger came in and--you know, I think
she's a genius. She's a genius, and I think she's a perfectionist and she can
be very hard on herself. And she, you know, came with the least background of
singing, and, in the course, improved the most of anybody.

But she was frustrated. She was just, like, `I'm sick of this. I don't want
to do these exercises. I've had it. I'm just done. This is not getting any
better.' And I thought, `OK, I got to feel like what she's feeling.' I said,
`You know what? It sounds like when I go to the gym. I hate it. I hate
every second of it. I hate it. It's so boring.' She says, `Oh, I love it.
I can do it for two hours.' I said, `Well, I'll make you a deal. If I sit
here on the floor and do sit-ups, will you do these exercises?' And she did.
It was great, you know. So the answer to the question is: yes, some people
get really frustrated and tired. But as she did, she slogged through and she
had a great breakthrough after that.

GROSS: Have you had experiences working with actors who have to learn how to
really sing for musicals...

Mr. BOGAEV: Yeah?

GROSS: ...have those experiences made you believe that anyone can sing, or
has it made you believe that certain people can sing?

Mr. BOGAEV: No. I will unfortunately say that there are limits. And the
limits are if you plunk a note out and somebody hits another note and they are
kind of--what's known as tone deaf, that you just better not bark up that
tree. You've got to be--when you say `non-singer,' let's say, a beginning
singer. That's different. That's somebody who has basic pitch and rhythm,
and then you've got something to work with. But, man, you cannot draw blood
from a stone.

GROSS: Well, Paul Bogaev, thank you so much for talking with us.

Mr. BOGAEV: Thank you.

GROSS: Paul Bogaev is the conductor and music supervisor of the film
"Chicago." The soundtrack has just been released.


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of "All That Jazz")

Ms. CATHERINE ZETA-JONES: (As Velma) (Singing) Slick your hair, wear your
buckle shoes. And all that jazz. I hear that Father Dip is going to blow the
blues and all that jazz.

Hold on, hon, we're gonna bunny hug. I bought some aspirin down at United
Drug in case you shake apart and want a brand-new start to do that jazz!

(Soundbite of music)

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