Stephanie Pope, known for playing Velma Kelly in the national touring and Las Vegas companies of Chicago, steps into Broadway's Fosse Aug. 24, replacing Rachelle Rak, who shifts back into the sinewy ensemble.
Rak replaced Reva Rice, who moves on to the Fosse national tour. Rice took over from Valarie Pettiford July 20.
Pope will sing and dance the central role in Fosse, an otherwise ensemble-populated revue of the dances created by late choreographer Bob Fosse. Valarie Pettiford originated the part -- a kind of slinky narrator chorine, singing "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" and more -- and was Tony Award-nominated for it.
Pope, who'll be in Fosse at least six months, starred in the Encores! presentation of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, in numbers originated by Josephine Baker and was Gymnasia in the Nathan Lane revival of Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. She was Chita Rivera's standby in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Pettiford is currently starring as Velma Kelly in the London staging of Chicago, opposite Chita Rivera as Roxie Hart.
The first performance of the national tour of Fosse is set for Sept. 14, at Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Oriental Theatre.
Pettiford and Jane Lanier, the dancer-singers who helped create the heat and jazz at the center of Fosse in its pre-Broadway bookings and in New York, left the Best Musical Tony Award-winner July 18.
Reva Rice jumped into the Pettiford role at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre July 20. Lanier's chores -- including the "Steam Heat" number -- have been taken over by members of the ensemble.
Fosse won 1999 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Orchestrations and Best Lighting Design.