Tony Award-winner Hal Linden, a New York musical theatre fixture before becoming TV's "Barney Miller," joins the Las Vegas company of Chicago Aug. 31, trading in his decent, Everyman persona for the role of slick, razzle-dazzle lawyer, Billy Flynn.
Linden, who found a home in Broadway musicals in the 1960s and early 1970s, takes over for Ben Vereen, who had been with the desert troupe of the hit revival since March.
Linden geared up for the Vegas stint by playing Flynn in the "Roxie" national tour in Madison, WI, Aug. 4, and went on to Hartford, CT, Aug. 6 8, and St. Louis, MO, Aug. 10-15. That tour went on a six-week hiatus Aug. 22.
The Vegas staging, which opened March 1999 at the Mandalay Bay Resort, is expected to continue with Linden at least into early 2000. Linden's co stars are Jasmine Guy, Charlotte d'Amboise, Roz Ryan (as Mama Morton) and Michael Tucci as hapless Amos.
Linden was a clarinet player and a big band singer before he studied acting with Paul Mann and Lloyd Richards. His break came in 1958 when he understudied Sydney Chaplin in Bells Are Ringing. He eventually took over the role and went on the national tour (singing "Just in Time," the show's big hit.). Linden appeared in 18 Broadway musicals including On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Subways Are for Sleeping, The Apple Tree, Ilya Darling and, most recently, The Sisters Rosensweig and I'm Not Rappaport. He won the Tony Award playing patriarch Mayer Rothschild in the Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock musical, The Rothschilds.
Recently, he took over for Eli Wallach in Off-Broadway's Visiting Mr. Green. His concert appearances, including a 1998 concert in Baltimore, "Hal Linden on Broadway," included Linden playing the clarinet. (No word on whether Billy Flynn will play some hot licks.)
For information about Chicago at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino call (877) 632-7400.
-- By Kenneth Jones