B'way Chicago Cast To Stay for the Summer

News   B'way Chicago Cast To Stay for the Summer
 
For all the rumors of comings and goings, Broadway's Chicago has maintained a pretty steady cast this spring and will likely do so throughout the summer.

For all the rumors of comings and goings, Broadway's Chicago has maintained a pretty steady cast this spring and will likely do so throughout the summer.

All the majors are expected to stay in place at least through Labor Day, according to a spokesperson from the Pete Sanders office (reached May 1). Those include Hinton Battle as Billy, Marcia Lewis as Mama, Ernie Sabella as Amos, David Sabella (Ernie's brother) as reporter Mary Sunshine, Karen Ziemba as Roxie and Bebe Neuwirth as Velma. (Neuwirth is shooting a movie in May, and on dates she can't be in Chicago, understudy Nancy Hess will fill in.)

Battle, who won a Tony for The Tap Dance Kid and appeared in Sophisticated Ladies and Dreamgirls, took over for James Naughton Dec. 23, 1997. Battle also won a featured actor Tony for Miss Saigon.

 

As for Chicago's first national tour (the "Roxie Company"), now in Providence, RI, TV's Alan Thicke plays Billy, On The Town's Lea DeLaria plays Mama, Belle Calaway plays Roxie, and Stephanie Pope plays Velma. Roxie Company Schedule:
Providence, RI - Providence Performing Arts Center - Apr. 28-May 3
Cleveland, OH - Palace - May 5-17
Denver, CO - Buell - May 26-June 14
Seattle, WA - Paramount - June 16-July 5

 

As for the Chicago second national tour, Brent Barrett (Billy), Charlotte D'Amboise (Roxie) and Jasmine Guy (Velma) are in the the "Velma Company." Barrett was the first cast replacement for David Carroll in Broadway's Grand Hotel.

Velma Company Schedule:

Los Angeles - Ahmanson - Apr. 28-July 5
Costa Mesa - Orange County Performing Arts Center - July 7-12

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The smash $3 million Broadway revival of the Kander and Ebb musical has been a hot ticket since opening Nov. 14, 1996. The production, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Ann Reinking ("in the style of Bob Fosse"), originated as a four-performance concert staging in May at City Center's "Encores!" series devoted to rarely-heard musical scores.

Neuwirth and Naughton won Best Actress and Actor in a Musical Tony Awards for Chicago, and Reinking (who was replaced in the Broadway cast this summer by Henner) won a Tony for Best Choreographer.

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The London Chicago cast (as of Mar. 20) featured Ruthie Henshall (London's Crazy For You) as Roxie, European cabaret favorite Ute Lemper as Velma Kelly, and Nigel Planer (TV's "The Young Ones") as Amos. Henry Goodman (who has been quite busy of late -- earlier this year he was Nathan Detroit in the National's Guys & Dolls, and in October he left the cast of the acclaimed West End production of Art), is Billy Flynn. That production recently was nominated for seven Olivier Awards, the most of any London show.

Chicago, which won the 1997 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical, began its London engagement Oct. 28 at the Adelphi Theatre on London's West End, with an official opening Nov. 18. Walter Bobbie, who won a Tony Award for his direction of the Broadway revival, also directed the London production.

The next Chicago mounting will be in Australia with local actors, opening July 4. Not yet cast, the staging will be co-produced by the Weisslers and Australian producers.

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Chicago, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, was originally directed and choreographed on Broadway in 1975 by Bob Fosse; Fosse and Ebb co-wrote the show's book, which was based on a notorious Chicago murder trial in the Twenties.

The first Broadway production starred Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach.

Things are moving just a little faster in the push to bring John Kander & Fred Ebb's musical, Chicago, to the big screen. Sources at Miramax films confirm the long-speculated casting of Goldie Hawn and Madonna, with "further announcements forthcoming."

Feb. 6, columnist Liz Smith broke the news that Carousel's Nicholas Hytner will direct the film. Informed sources also told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 11) that Larry Gelbart (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Mastergate) is working on the screenplay.

Previously, columnist Smith reported (Jan. 23) that Rosie O'Donnell, once rumored for the role of "Mama," wants to stay home with her children and has declined the part. Weeks earlier, producer Sam Crothers told the Daily News, "We're holding off on making a decision about Rosie until we have a start date." That won't happen until the script is finished and a director is chosen. (Crothers works with partner Marty Richards as part of Producers Circle. Richards co-produced Chicago's 1975 Broadway premiere.)

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