Despite bombs, "Chicago" razzle dazzles in Pakistan

Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:13am EST
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By Sahar Ahmed

KARACHI (Reuters Life!) - Braving a spate of bombings targeting the arts, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly are shimmying on stage in a Pakistani production of "Chicago," a rare foray into Broadway-style theater in this conservative Muslim nation.

The play, a satire on corruption and celebrity set in 1920s free-wheeling Chicago, is being put on by Pakistani human rights lawyer turned director Nida Butt, who also helped choreograph the dance sequences which, like the original production, feature the actresses in short, revealing dresses.

"You are scared but you cannot stop doing what you love," Nida Butt told Reuters.

"I'm thinking about my art, my work and my passion along with the 200 people standing behind me," said the 27-year-old who studied law in Britain, referring to her cast and crew.

Pakistan, locked in a longstanding battle with al Qaeda and Taliban Muslim militants, has seen a wave of attacks targeting artistic and cultural venues in recent months.

In January, six small explosions went off outside theatres in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural center, wounding at least five people. These follow three small blasts that went off outside another cultural center in the same city in November.

There was no claim of responsibility.

The majority of Pakistan's 160 million people are moderates, but some hardliners, like the Taliban, oppose all music, film, and television. "Chicago" is likely to raise the militant's ire as it features drunkenness, murder and dancing.   Continued...