Jinkx Monsoon says that playing Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago is perfect for one reason: Monsoon is "everyone's favorite MILF," the two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race winner told Playbill.
Monsoon will make her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago beginning January 16 at the Ambassador Theatre. The acclaimed drag performer met the press and shared some details on what to expect from her version of the head mistress of Murderess Row.
"This is one of my favorite shows," Monsoon enthuses. "And, Mama, is one of my favorite characters because she is so impactful and so powerful. And, in a show about, you know, just the way society treats women—here is one woman who has found a way to survive within that society. And that makes her strong and resilient."
Monsoon will step into the role of Matron "Mama" Morton for an eight-week limited engagement through March 12, becoming the first drag queen to play the role on Broadway. Monsoon regularly sings Morton's torch song, "When You're Good to Mama" in her concerts, though cheekier (and more suggestive) than it's done in Chicago. "I get to sing the song I've always been singing now as it was meant to be sung!" Monsoon exclaims with a rambunctious laugh.
This is a full circle moment for the performer because she based her drag persona off of musical theatre icons. "The people who have always inspired me the most are the Broadway divas. I think you can see a lot of influence from Bernadette Peters and Bebe Neuwirth and Patti LuPone," explains Monsoon. "Patti LuPone taught me how to sing, sing in a way that you can sing eight shows a week."
Monsoon has musical theatre experience, having starred in Spring Awakening and Hedwig and the Angry Inch in her hometown of Seattle. She also recently toured with the acclaimed theatrical spectacular, The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, co-starring with her best friend and fellow drag star, BenDeLaCreme.
Watch Playbill's interview with Jinkx Monsoon below.
James T. Lane, who was seen in the Broadway and London productions of The Scottsboro Boys, will also join the cast of the Tony-winning revival of Chicago January 16.
Lane, who has also been seen on Broadway in Kiss Me, Kate; King Kong the Musical; and A Chorus Line as well as in the national tours of Ain’t Too Proud and Jersey Boys, will take over the role of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn.
The two artists will join a cast that also features Charlotte d’Amboise as Roxie Hart, Lana Gordon as Velma Kelly, Evan Harrington as Amos Hart, and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine.
The company also includes David Bushman, Christine Cornish, Jennifer Dunne, Jessica Ernest, Jeff Gorti, Arian Keddell, Mary Claire King, Marty Lawson, Joseph London, Barrett Martin, Sharon Moore, Drew Nellessen, Celina Nightengale, Brian O'Brien, Denny Paschall, Jermaine R. Rembert, Rachel Schur, and Michael Scirrotto.
The revival of Chicago began life as one of the three annual Encores! presentations offered by City Center. The musical opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in November 14, 1996, where it remained through February 1997. The musical transferred to the Shubert Theatre, and played that house through January 26, 2003. The revival reopened at the Ambassador Theatre January 29 that year.
Since its debut in 1996, Chicago has played in 36 countries and been seen by 33 million people worldwide. It is now the second-longest running show in Broadway history (after The Phantom of the Opera).
READ: How the Chicago Costumes Have Evolved Over 25 Years
With a book by the late Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Ebb, Chicago features direction by Walter Bobbie, choreography by the late Ann Reinking, set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Scott Lehrer, and casting by Stewart/Whitley.
The current production, produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 1997 as well as awards for actors Bebe Neuwirth and James Naughton, director Bobbie, lighting designer Billington, and Reinking. The original production was directed and choreographed by the late Fosse.