By Andrew Gans
22 Aug 2006
Usher will play a six-week stint as Billy Flynn — the role created in this revival by Tony Award winner James Naughton — through Oct. 1. The singer-actor follows a long list of celebrities who have played the slick lawyer, including George Hamilton, Huey Lewis, Wayne Brady and John O'Hurley.
Aug. 22 also marks the arrival of Bianca Marroquin, who begins her second Broadway run as Roxie Hart. The actress, who starred in the Mexico City production of Chicago as well as the show's U.S. national tour, will play the merry murderess through Oct. 29.
Usher's arrival has been a boon for the Chicago box office. The New York Post recently reported that sales for the long-running musical, which celebrates its tenth anniversary Nov. 14, are up 30 percent. And, a spokesperson for the musical told Playbill.com that advance sales for the show are "growing by the day — both at the box office and [through] Telecharge."
About joining the Broadway company, Usher said in a previous statement, "This is a very exciting time in my career. I have always admired Broadway actors for their showmanship, dedication and focus that goes into performing live on stage every night. Being on Broadway allows you to connect to audiences in a whole new way that’s different from music and movies. When they asked me to play Billy Flynn in Chicago, I jumped at the chance to be a part of such an amazing production."
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Bianca Marroquin began her career in Mexico City in the ensemble of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. For her portrayal of Roxie Hart in the Mexico City mounting, Marroquin received five awards from the Mexican Critics Association including New Revelation and Best Actress. Her other theatrical credits include Rent and The Phantom of the Opera. She has also appeared in the national tour of Chicago.
Chicago also features Brenda Braxton as Velma Kelly, Kevin Chamberlin as Amos Hart, Lillias White as Matron "Mama" Morton and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine.
Chicago won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 1997 as well as awards for actors Bebe Neuwirth and James Naughton, director Walter Bobbie, lighting designer Ken Billington and choreographer Ann Reinking. The original production was directed and choreographed by the late Bob Fosse.
Chicago plays the Ambassador Theatre, located at 215 West 49th Street.