Chicago Plays 3,000th Performance Feb. 2; Norm Lewis Joins Cast

By Andrew Gans
February 2, 2004

On Monday, Feb. 2 the Tony-winning revival of Chicago will reach another milestone. The Kander and Ebb musical now playing the Ambassador Theatre will play its 3,000th performance that evening.

That performance will also mark the arrival of the show's newest Billy Flynn, former Side Show star Norm Lewis who replaces Tony Award winner James Naughton. Lewis and the rest of the current company will celebrate show number 3,000 at a pre-performance party that will include the musical's Tony-winning choreographer — and its original Roxie — Ann Reinking.

Lewis joins a company that includes Brenda Braxton as Velma Kelly, Gretchen Mol as Roxie Hart, Gregory Butler as Fred Casely, P. J. Benjamin as Amos Hart, Debbie Gravitte as Matron "Mama" Morton and D. Sabella as Mary Sunshine.

The Chicago revival has already played three times as many performances as the original production. The original mounting — starring Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon — played 936 performances and 24 previews, from May 12, 1975-Aug. 27, 1977. The revival began its life as part of the acclaimed City Center Encores! series. The production — featuring an on stage orchestra — began previews at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre Nov. 14, 1996; the revival transferred to the Shubert Theatre in Feb. 1997 and then moved to the Ambassador Theatre in Jan. 2003.

Norm Lewis, who recently appeared in the benefit Children of Eden concert, has been seen on Broadway in The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon and The Who’s Tommy. His Off-Broadway credits include Captains Courageous and A New Brain, and he has toured with Once on This Island and Four Score & Seven Years Ago. Lewis’ other theatrical credits include the all-star Dreamgirls concert, the City Center Encores! production of Golden Boy and regional productions of Pippin and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Chicago won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 1997 as well as awards for actors Bebe Neuwirth and Naughton, director Walter Bobbie, lighting designer Ken Billington and choreographer Ann Reinking. The original production was directed and choreographed by the late Bob Fosse.

On Broadway, Chicago plays the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th Street.