Karen Ziemba Back on B'way as Chicago's Roxie, Mar. 24

News   Karen Ziemba Back on B'way as Chicago's Roxie, Mar. 24 Less than a year after her star vehicle Steel Pier opened and closed on Broadway, Karen Ziemba is back in another Kander & Ebb musical, the hit revival of Chicago, where she replaces Marilu Henner as Roxie Mar. 24.

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Less than a year after her star vehicle Steel Pier opened and closed on Broadway, Karen Ziemba is back in another Kander & Ebb musical, the hit revival of Chicago, where she replaces Marilu Henner as Roxie Mar. 24.

Ziemba has been playing the role in the second national tour (the "Velma" Company). Ziemba's last Broadway stint was in another John Kander & Fred Ebb show, Steel Pier.

For the latest on the projected film version of Chicago, see the last asterisk in this story, below.

Ziemba's other credits include Broadway's Crazy for You as well as And The World Goes `Round and Sing For Your Supper Off-Broadway at the York Theatre.

Bebe Neuwirth is set to stay with the Broadway company indefinitely. Hinton Battle and Ernie Sabella are the current Billy Flynn and Amos. Battle won a Tony for The Tap Dance Kid and appeared in Sophisticated Ladies and Dreamgirls. He also won a featured actor Tony for Miss Saigon. Sabella played Marcus Lycus in the recent A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum revival and lent his voice to the animated "Lion King." He already has some practice singing "Mr. Cellophane" -- Sabella subbed for a vacationing Joel Grey Oct. 18-Nov. 9. (A bonus was being able to be onstage with his brother, David Sabella, who plays Mary Sunshine the reporter.) Meanwhile, when Jasmine Guy left the first national tour of Broadway's Chicago in late February, taking over the role of Velma was Lisa Leguillou, seen on Broadway in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. (Because of a hamstring injury, Leguillo is temporarily being replaced by Donna Marie Asbury.) The Roxie Company, now in Toronto, co-stars Belle Calaway (Roxie) and Michael Tucci (Amos) (replacing Charlotte D'Amboise and Ron Orbach).

Roxie Company Schedule:

Toronto - Princess of Wales - Feb 17-Apr. 25
Providence - Providence Performing Arts Center - Apr. 28-May 3
Cleveland - Palace - May 5-17
Denver - Buell - May 26-June 14
Seattle - Paramount - June 16-July 5

As for the Chicago second national tour, Ziemba, Brent Barrett, and Stephanie Pope are in the the "Velma Company." Ziemba plays Roxie, Pope (Gymnasia in the Broadway Forum revival) plays Velma, and Barrett is Billy Flynn. Barrett was the first cast replacement for David Carroll in Broadway's Grand Hotel.

Velma Company Schedule:

Minneapolis - TBA - Mar. 10-29
New Orleans - Saenger - Mar. 31-Apr. 5
Dallas - TBA - Apr. 7-12
Tempe - Gammage - Apr. 14-19
Sacramento - TBA - Apr. 21-26
Los Angeles - Ahmanson - Apr. 28-July 5
Costa Mesa - Orange County Performing Arts Center - July 7-12

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Chicago continues to do sold-out business at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. The smash $3 million Broadway revival of the Kander and Ebb musical has been a hot ticket since opening Nov. 14, 1996.

This production of Chicago, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Anne 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.

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

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The London Chicago cast features 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 -- early in 1997 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.

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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.

* Progress has been slow bringing Chicago to the big screen. Goldie Hawn and Madonna are expected to be in the cast, but Liz 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.)

In Liz Smith's Feb. 6 syndicated column, she quotes Madonna as saying Nicholas Hytner has been chosen to direct the film, which she is "1,000 percent behind."

A spokesperson for the Miramax film told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 6) that Hawn and Madonna are connected to the project, though still not officially signed. "It's in development, and we're moving steadily towards production." However, another Miramax spokesperson (Jan. 12) said the film was still in very early preproduction, with no casting, director or even script writers firmed up.

For tickets for the London production of Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre, call 011-44-1-71-344-0055. For tickets to the Broadway Chicago call (212) 239-6200.

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