Since Fosse has been grabbing Chicago veterans for its lead roles, the Kander and Ebb revival is going a little farther afield for its latest round of stars. Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, once of The Life, took over as Billy Flynn April 12. Starting April 27, Vicki Lewis returns to the cast as Velma Kelly, and Nana Visitor (of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") will beam up as Roxie Hart May 8.
Currently, frequent Chicago returnee Belle Calaway is playing Roxie (to May 6). Marcia Lewis, the revival's Tony Award-nominated original Matron Mama Morton, is belting out "When You're Good to Mama" nightly at the Shubert.
Cooper won the 1996 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for playing soulful, corrupt Memphis in Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman's The Life. Now he's the slick, corrupt criminal lawyer representing murderesses in the musical comedy by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. Cooper's Broadway credits include Passion, Someone to Watch Over Me, Rumors, Amen Corner and Getting Away With Murder. Clarke Peters had played Billy in Chicago to April 8.
Lewis, the daffy, vampy character actress who appeared in Broadway's Damn Yankees and on TV's "Newsradio," was last in Chicago in summer 2000. She'd played Velma on tour and in the Las Vegas sit-down company. Lewis, who first came to New York notice in an American Jewish Theatre revival of I Can Get It for You Wholesale, is heard on the cast album of the Damn Yankees revival (she was sports writer Gloria Thorp) and on concert or studio recordings of Pal Joey and Girl Crazy. Sharon Lawrence, Mamie Ducan Gibbs and Donna Marie Asbury were other recent Broadway Velmas.
Actress Visitor is best known for playing Kira on "Star Trek" and is currently a regular on "Dark Angel." Broadway credits include My One and Only and The Prince of Grand Street. Ann Reinking choreographed the show (drawing on the style of Fosse), Walter Bobbie directed and Barry and Fran Weissler produce. Musical numbers include "All That Jazz," "Razzle Dazzle," "When Velma Takes the Stand," "Roxie," "We Both Reached For the Gun," "I Know a Girl," "Me and My Baby," "All I Care About Is Love" and more.
Chicago performances continue at the Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th Street. For $20-$90 tickets, call (212) 239-6200.