Neuwirth's Velma Kelly will be replaced by Ute Lemper April 6. German chanteuse Lemper played Velma in the London staging of the revival of the 1975 John Kander-Fred Ebb-Bob Fosse musical.
Lemper, who joined the Broadway company in 1998, is returning from the Las Vegas production where she starred with original Chicago star Chita Rivera (who was Roxie Hart in the desert) and Marcia Lewis as Matron Mama Morton. On April 7, Chicago, at the Shubert Theatre, celebrates 1,000 performances.
The dance in the Broadway and touring productions of Chicago isn't all on stage: The casting dance continues, with stars Ruthie Henshall, Sandy Duncan, Bebe Neuwirth and Ute Lemper spinning 'round in April and May. Here's the latest:
* Ute Lemper is replaced as Velma by Stephanie Pope.
* Ruthie Henshall, Adrian Zmed and Sandy Duncan begin performances with the national tour, as Velma, Billy and Roxie, respectively, April 22-May 16 at Boston's Shubert Theatre and the women are expected to move onto Broadway May 25.
Duncan, who was flying on Broadway 20 years ago as Peter Pan, replaces Ziemba.
British Henshall was a smash in London as the revival's Roxie, opposite German chanteuse Lemper. She made her American theatre debut March 25 29 in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, a concert revival by "Encores!" at City Center. Ziemba and Pope also appeared in the concert.
Duncan and Henshall's Broadway co-stars will be Brent Barrett, Roz Ryan and P.J. Benjamin.
Duncan is a three-time Tony Award nominee, for Canterbury Tales, The Boy Friend and Peter Pan. She appeared in the national and international tours of My One and Only with longtime friend Tommy Tune, and was set last year to star with Tune in a 1999 staging of Irving Berlin's Easter Parade, but that project is still in slow development.
She and Tune sang and danced in a vaudeville-style revue in Seattle in 1998.
Chicago, directed Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Ann Reinking "in the style of" Bob Fosse, opened on Broadway Nov. 14, 1996 and won six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival. For Chicago ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.
The official Chicago website is www.chicagothemusical.com.