Talkin' BroadwayPast Columns

Chicago goes Vegas with Chita and Marcia!

The rumors are flying around Las Vegas that Chita Rivera and Marcia Lewis will be starring in the new production of Chicago at the Mandalay Bay Hotel/Casino which is scheduled to open on March 2nd. Will Chita play Roxie Hart, or reprise her role as Velma Kelly if the deal is truly worked out? And if she plays Roxie who will play Velma? Only time will tell, but my sources say it's happening.

There is some speculation as to whether this will be a scaled down production similar to the 1985 production done in Atlantic City. That production had Chita playing Roxie, however, several parts were cut and it was a 90 minute show. However, it was done with the original sets from 1975 and I understand those sets are still in a warehouse somewhere in New Jersey. The word around Vegas town is that this will be a full scaled production just like the current Broadway revival (sans sets). Ann Reinking is already on the scene and the show is in rehearsals. It'll play in Toronto before opening at the Mandalay Bay.

If the deal is concluded, Chita will again play Roxie Hart, although I would kill to see her do Velma again. Imagine seeing the original Velma playing Roxie? Lots of fun for sure, but alas, "All That Jazz” belongs to Velma. And who would play Velma? Certainly not Marcia Lewis. She's Matron Mama Morton, the role she was nominated for a Tony Award for two years ago. Marcia currently is still belting it nightly at the Shubert Theater and wowing crowds. Both names would certainly be a draw for the Las Vegas production. The Vegas press has reported on the full production and that the producers were looking for names to star. I think Chita and Marcia would be the perfect double match.

The real guessing game is who will play the role of Velma Kelly? There is no word on that yet. Bebe is now available after her "artisitic differences” with the new Kander & Ebb tuner. Or maybe Ann Reinking? It's anyone's guess at the moment. However, if ya ask me, and no one has, I've seen all the ladies who have played Velma since 1975, and surely Chita was the best, but in the Broadway company is Mamie Duncan-Gibbs, who understudies the role of Velma, and I saw her perform the role. She's just great. Best Velma I've seen since Chita. But, we'll have to wait and see who they cast in this major role. Regardless, the name on everybody's lips is gonna be Chita, and we'll be good to Mama too!


  • "LION KING" company records Holiday CD, Proceeds go to BC/EFA

    And they say actors are lazy! Cast members from The Lion King will be up with the reindeer this Christmas morning when they go on WNYU Radio to promote their holiday CD which features the songs "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night." Twenty cast members are featured on the CD; the carols are traditional and South African- influenced. The cast has already raised $141,000 for BC/EFA. In addition to BC/EFA, a portion will go to a South African charity which helps people in that country afflicted with AIDS.

    The recording was organized by company members Frank Wright, Aubrey Lynch and Bill Hubner and Ron Kunene; they're doing it again in the spring when the cast records an Easter CD which will feature about eight nursery rhymes sung with musical flavors ranging from pop to r&b to country and western to hip-hop.

    The Holiday CD is $20 and is available at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 West 42 Street) or can be purchased on line at

  • Four actors who appeared in the London productions of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh with Kevin Spacey will continue in their roles in the limited Broadway engagement directed by Howard Davies at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre beginning March 29, with the official opening on April 8, 1999.

    The successful production was originally staged at the Almeida, and then at the Old Vic in London, completely sold-out both runs. On Broadway The Iceman Cometh is produced by Emanuel Azenberg, Allan S. Gordon, Bill Haber, Elan V. McAllister and Ira Pittelman.

    The British-based actors who are coming to Broadway are:

    PATRICK GODFREY (Cecil Lewis) made his Broadway debut in the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. His film work includes, The Remains of the Day, Maurice, A Room with a View and Clockwise.

    JAMES HAZELDINE (Harry Hope) appeared on Broadway in Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude with Glenda Jackson. His films include Pink Floyd The Wall, Stardust, The National Health, The Ruling Class and Nicholas and Alexandra.

    CLARKE PETERS (Joe Mott) was one of the writers and original performers of Five Guys Named Moe. He appeared as Sky Masterson in the recent Royal National Theatre revival of Guys & Dolls, along with many other National productions, and in the West End staging of Kiss of the Spider Woman.

    TIM PIGOTT-SMITH (Larry Slade) is best known to American audiences from his portrayal of the evil Merrick in the television epic The Jewel in the Crown. With numerous credits at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, his films include Joseph Andrews, Clash of the Titans and The Remains of the Day.

  • The National Tour of FOOTLOOSE has opened in Cleveland at the Allen Theatre, where it will play through January 3.

    Marianne Evett of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said FOOTLOOSE was "full of youthful high spirits. The high voltage energy onstage is just as much fun as in New York."

    Russ Musarra in the Akron Beacon Journal said "the cast cuts FOOTLOOSE into a winner onstage. The high-energy performance adds to the successful 1984 film. Let's hear it for the boys and girls who generated enough energy onstage at Cleveland's Allen Theatre Wednesday evening to light up Playhouse Square with no help from the power company.

  • The Michael Crawford Phantom Movie Campaign (TMCPMC) hit the airwaves. During Michael Crawford's appearance on The Howie Mandel Show, Crawford and Mandel discussed the campaign, with Mandel stating, "You are synonymous with that part." While Crawford himself has smartly spoken little about the casting controversy, during the show he expressed appreciation to TMCPMC for their efforts and indicated that he is still very interested in reprising his stage role on film. Mandel enthusiastically displayed to the camera what had grabbed the attention of Hollywood insiders: TMCPMCs fan-funded full-page ad in the November 16th edition of Variety magazine. Mandel cheerfully encouraged fans to call the campaign's telephone number (913-339-9369), saying, "So call in and hopefully we'll get to see [Michael Crawford] in the movie!"

  • Broadway's Tommy Tune will be starring in EFX starting January 15th. The show is being revamped to accommodate the 5 foot 18 inch Mr. Tune and his multi-talents. David Cassidy finishes his 2 year starring stint on Dec. 31.

  • Brian Stokes Mitchell gives his final performance in Ragtime on the 27th. A special Holiday performance has been added so he'll take his final bow at the evening performance.

  • From the entire staff of Talkin' Broadway, we wish you the best for this Holiday season.

See you Sunday!

Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat!

Past Rialto Columns

Search What's New on the Rialto

Privacy Policy