As Rivera Looks to London, Henner Assumes Roxie in Vegas Chicago, July 6-Aug. 22

News   As Rivera Looks to London, Henner Assumes Roxie in Vegas Chicago, July 6-Aug. 22
 
Marilu Henner will step into the role of Roxie Hart in the Las Vegas staging of Chicago July 6-Aug. 22, replacing Chita Rivera, who is planning to appear in the London production in September.

Marilu Henner will step into the role of Roxie Hart in the Las Vegas staging of Chicago July 6-Aug. 22, replacing Chita Rivera, who is planning to appear in the London production in September.

Rivera's final show at the 1,750-seat Mandalay Bay Theatre at the Mandalay Bay Resort is expected to be July 4.

Ben Vereen also stars in the Las Vegas production. Henner appeared as Roxie on Broadway in spring 1997, replacing Ann Reinking, who originated the role in -- and choreographed -- the smash revival. Henner might be best known for her role as Elaine in TV's "Taxi," and appeared on Broadway in Over Here!

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Dave Kirvin of Mandalay Bay told Playbill On-Line earlier in 1999 that Chicago is a rare occasion for Vegas: Although uncut national tours such as Stomp have played the desert resort town, sit-down stagings of musicals are usually trimmed-down, tourist-and-gambler friendly productions, like the (now-closed) 90-minute Starlight Express at the Hilton, or in-house casino versions of classic musical comedies. Chicago is a replica of the full Broadway revival production. The Mandalay venue offers table seating and traditional theatre seating and is built, for future productions, for "major" shows, Kirvin said.

The Weisslers, producers of the Broadway Chicago and its spinoff tours, produce the Vegas stand in association with Warren Trepp and Mandalay Bay.

For ticket information, call (702) 474-4000 or (877) 632-7400. The top ticket price at Mandalay Bay is $82.50.

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Rivera, who turned 66 Jan. 23, was originally expected to continue in the Vegas stand to Aug. 28. She appeared in the original Broadway staging in 1975 as Roxie's pal, Velma, singing "All That Jazz," which has become something of a signature for her.

Rivera's in-process one-woman show, backed up by "boy" dancers, is called Chita and All That Jazz. It had a summer 1998 tryout in Atlantic City and is expected to resurface perhaps in early 2000. Fred Ebb is a consultant.

The role of Roxie Hart, one of a gaggle of murderesses in the cynical musical comedy, was originated by Gwen Verdon in 1975.

The now-legendary Rivera made her splash as the original Anita in West Side Story in 1957-58 and over the next four decades appeared in Broadway musical hits and beloved flops, including Bye Bye Birdie, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Bajour, Merlin, Bring Back Birdie, The Rink, as well as in numerous club acts and tours (Can-Can, for example).

Not even a taxicab accident, which required having pins put in her famous legs, could stop Rivera from dancing across a Broadway stage.

-- By Kenneth Jones

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