Brent Barrett, Karen Ziemba and Stephanie Pope all star in the "Velma Company" second national tour of the musical, Chicago, beginning in Florida Dec. 12. Ziemba (Steel Pier) plays Roxie, Pope (Gymnasia in the Broadway Forum revival) is Velma, and Barrett plays Billy Flynn. Barrett was the first cast replacement for David Carroll in Broadway's Grand Hotel.
Ziemba is expected to stay with the show at least through March. If she doesn't extend, a tour spokesperson there's a possibility that Bebe Neuwirth, Jasmine Guy or another well-known actress will be tapped for the Roxie role when Chicago hits L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre.
Film actress Sandahl Bergman is also in the Chicago ensemble and serves as the tour's dance captain. Appropriately, she appeared in the Bob Fosse film, All That Jazz.
Here are the current dates, subject to change, for the Tour:
Velma Company Tampa - Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center - Dec. 16-28
Richmond - Carpenter Center - Dec. 31-Jan. 4, 1998
Pittsburgh - Benedum Center - Jan. 6-18
Grand Rapids - Devos Hall - Jan 20-25
Nashville - Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Jan. 27-Feb. 1
Baltimore - Mechanic - Feb. 3-15
New Haven - Shubert - Feb. 17-Mar. 1
St. Louis - Fox - Mar. 3-8
Minneapolis - State Theatre - Mar. 10-29
New Orleans - Saenger - Mar. 31-Apr. 5
Dallas - Music Hall - 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
Touring spokesperson Anita Dloniak told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 5) the second company took awhile to cast because producers Fran & Barry Weissler were in London for the premiere of Chicago there -- their first overseas venture. The London cast features Ruthie Henshall (London's Crazy For You) as Roxie, 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 just a week ago he left the cast of the acclaimed West End production of Art), is Billy Flynn.
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 1st national U.S. tour (the "Roxie" Company) of Chicago kicked off at Cincinnati's Aronoff Center Mar. 25, 1997 and stars Charlotte D'Amboise, Jasmine Guy and Obba Babatunde. .
Here are tour schedules for the "Roxie" company. Dates are tentative and subject to change.
Boston - Dec. 3-Feb. 15, 1998
Toronto - Princess of Wales - Feb 17-Apr. 25, 1998
Providence - Providence Performing Arts Center - Apr. 28-May 3, 1998
Cleveland - Palace - May 5-17, 1998
Denver - Buell - May 26-June 14, 1998
Seattle - Paramount - June 16-July 5, 1998
Chicago in New York continues to do sold-out business at the Shubert on Broadway, where James Naughton stars with Marilu Henner, Bebe Neuwirth and Marcia Lewis. (Naughton leaves Dec. 21, to be replaced the next day by Hinton Battle.)
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 classic musical scores.
Neuwith and 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.
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.
According to the Daily News (Nov. 6), progress has been slow bringing Chicago to the big screen. Goldie Hawn and Madonna are expected in the cast, though Rosie O'Donnell, mentioned for the role of "Mama," may not come aboard. 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.)
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."
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.