Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson fame) makes her Broadway acting debut in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago beginning March 12.
Simpson steps into the role of Matron “Mama” Morton at the Ambassador Theatre, taking over for Grammy winner and Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss. Joining Simpson is Chaz Lamar Shepherd (the original Broadway production of The Color Purple) as Billy Flynn; recent Billy Flynn Tom Hewitt departed the production to appear in The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse.
Simpson, along with Nick Ashford, penned such classics as “Ain't No Mountain High Enough,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand,” “I'm Every Woman,” and “Solid.” Four of her songs are currently featured in the national tour of Motown the Musical. While this marks her Broadway acting debut, she headlined an Ashford & Simpson special engagement alongside Al Green at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin) in 1976.
Chicago currently also stars Bianca Marroquín as Roxie Hart, Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, Evan Harrington as Amos Hart, and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine.
With a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Chicago is now the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, the revival is the winner of six 1997 Tony Awards.
(Updated March 12, 2018)