Meet Sharon Wilkins, the full-figured girl in the lineup of 70's-vintage hookers occupying the Ethel Barrymore in The Life these days. She plays Chichi a zaftig diva whose confidence level is off the charts and she does it with maximum effect and minimum effort. In a show rife with stellar performances and at least two Tony-winning ones (Lillias White's and Chuck Cooper's) Wilkins wins with less-is-more purity. If there's an urgency to her acting, it's because she has only 35 minutes onstage.
All this in Act I. Her absence in Act II is practically palpable. The going gets grimmer there, and her natural brightness would have thrown off the desired tone. So the character doesn't make it back after intermission. "Chichi got hit by a garbage truck coming home from work," Wilkins reports.
This one act of The Life is her Broadway debut, but she comes to it from some pretty heavy-hitting parts (in Dreamgirls at the Paper Mill Playhouse and Ain't Misbehavin' on tour).
"I remember walking down Broadway last year, just knowing I was going to be there. When it happens, you realize a dream has come true but you still feel you're dreaming. You say, 'I know they're writing me checks, but it doesn't seem real yet.' It probably won't till I'm on to the next job."
That may be in the works as we speak. She switched managers to one who'll focus on television. "I can't wait. I'm ready. I hope they're ready."