Ernie Sabella To Be New Mr. Cellophane in NY Chicago Jan. 13

News   Ernie Sabella To Be New Mr. Cellophane in NY Chicago Jan. 13
Joel Grey left his featured role as Amos in Broadway's Chicago Jan. 11, to be replaced Jan. 13 by Ernie Sabella.

Joel Grey left his featured role as Amos in Broadway's Chicago Jan. 11, to be replaced Jan. 13 by Ernie Sabella.

Sabella played Marcus Lycus in the just-closed A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum revival and lent his voice to the animated "Lion King." He already has some practice singing "Mr. Cellophane" -- Sabella subbed for a vacationing Grey Oct. 18-Nov. 9. (A bonus was being able to be onstage with his brother, David Sabella, who plays Mary Sunshine the reporter.)

Grey is the show's second major cast-change within a month's time. James Naughton completed his role as Billy Flynn Dec. 21. Stepping in with his own razzle dazzle is Hinton Battle, who won a Tony for The Tap Dance Kid and appeared in Sophisticated Ladies and Dreamgirls. Battle also won a featured actor Tony for Miss Saigon joined the NY cast Dec. 23.

As for the Chicago second national tour, Brent Barrett, Karen Ziemba and Stephanie Pope are in the the "Velma Company." Ziemba (Steel Pier) plays Roxie, Pope (Gymnasia in the Broadway Forum revival) plays Velma, and Barrett is Billy Flynn. Barrett was the first cast replacement for David Carroll in Broadway's Grand Hotel. Film actress Sandahl Bergman is in the Chicago ensemble and serves as the tour's dance captain. Appropriately, she appeared in the Bob Fosse film, All That Jazz.

The first national tour (the "Roxie" Company) of Chicago kicked off at Cincinnati's Aronoff Center March 25 and stars Charlotte D'Amboise, Jasmine Guy and Obba Babatunde. . Here are tour schedules for the "Roxie" and "Velma" companies. Dates are tentative and subject to change.

Roxie Company

Boston - Dec. 3-Feb. 15, 1998
Toronto - Princess of Wales - Feb 17-Apr. 25
Providence - Providence Performing Arts Center - Apr. 28-May 3
Cleveland - Palace - May 5-17
Denver - Buell - May 26-June 14
Seattle - Paramount - June 16-July 5

Velma Company

Pittsburgh - TBA - Jan. 6-18
Grand Rapids - Devos Hall - Jan 20-25
Nashville - Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Jan. 27-Feb. 1
Baltimore - Mechanic - Feb. 3-15
New Haven - Shubert - Feb. 17-Mar. 1
St. Louis - Fox - Mar. 3-8
Minneapolis - TBA - Mar. 10-29
New Orleans - Saenger - Mar. 31-Apr. 5
Dallas - TBA - Apr. 7-12
Tempe - Gammage - Apr. 14-19
Sacramento - TBA - Apr. 21-26
Los Angeles - Ahmanson - Apr. 28-July 5
Costa Mesa - Orange County Performing Arts Center - July 7-12

The London cast features Ruthie Henshall (London's Crazy For You) as Roxie, European cabaret favorite Ute Lemper as Velma Kelly, and Nigel Planer (TV's "The Young Ones") as Amos. Henry Goodman (who has been quite busy of late -- earlier this year he was Nathan Detroit in the National's Guys & Dolls, and in October he left the cast of the acclaimed West End production of Art), is Billy Flynn.

Chicago, which won the 1997 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical, began its London engagement Oct. 28 at the Adelphi Theatre on London's West End, with an official opening Nov. 18. Walter Bobbie, who won a Tony Award for his direction of the Broadway revival, also directed the London production.


Chicago continues to do sold-out business at the Shubert on Broadway, where Beb Neuwirth stars with Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle and Marcia Lewis. The smash $3 million Broadway revival of the Kander and Ebb musical has been a hot ticket since opening Nov. 14, 1996.

This production of Chicago, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Anne Reinking ("in the style of Bob Fosse"), originated as a four- performance concert staging in May at City Center's Encores! Series devoted to classic musical scores.

Neuwith and James Naughton won Best Actress and Actor in a Musical Tony Awards for Chicago, and Reinking (who was replaced in the Broadway cast earlier this summer by Henner) won a Tony for Best Choreographer.

Chicago, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, was originally directed and choreographed on Broadway in 1975 by Bob Fosse; Fosse and Ebb co-wrote the show's book, which was based on a notorious Chicago murder trial in the Twenties.

The original Broadway production starred Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, and Jerry Orbach.


Progress has been slow bringing Chicago to the big screen. Goldie Hawn and Madonna are expected in the cast, though Rosie O'Donnell, mentioned for the role of "Mama," may not come aboard. Producer Sam Crothers told the Daily News, "We're holding off on making a decision about Rosie until we have a start date." That won't happen until the script is finished and a director is chosen. (Crothers works with partner Marty Richards as part of Producers Circle. Richards co-produced Chicago's 1975 Broadway premiere.)

A spokesperson for the Miramax film told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 6) that Hawn and Madonna are connected to the project, though still not officially signed. "It's in development, and we're moving steadily towards production." However, another Miramax spokesperson (Jan. 12) said the film was still in very early preproduction, with no casting, director or even script writers firmed up.

For tickets for the London production of Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre, call 011-44-1-71-344-0055. For tickets to the Broadway Chicago call (212) 239-6200.

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