Chicago - The Musical Tickets
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Bebe Neuwirth will complete a tour of the principal female roles in “Chicago” in January, when she rejoins the cast as “the countess of the clink,” prison matron “Mama” Morton, for an eight-week Broadway run.
Ms. Neuwirth won a Tony award as Velma Kelly in the 1996 revival of the Kander and Ebb musical, and returned to the cast in 2007 as the other “merry murderess,” Roxie Hart. Mama Morton runs the prison where the two are housed; her big number, “When You’re Good to Mama” outlines her tit-for-tat philosophy to keeping the peace.
“I never imagined playing all three,” Ms. Neuwirth said by telephone on Tuesday morning, on her way into a ballet class. “In this case, I was meeting with Barry Weissler, the producer, and talking about other projects we might do, and he asked me if I’d ever thought about playing Mama. I laughed and said, ‘Well, I’ve played Velma and Roxie, and when I get old enough, I’ll think about Mama.’ I was in my 30’s when the show opened, and now I’m in my 50’s.
“The role is really a Sophie Tucker role,” Ms. Neuwirth continued, referring to the performer known as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, “and there is nothing about me that resembles Sophie Tucker. But I think the material is so great that it can hold up with a different type of performer playing it.”
As the longest-running revival in Broadway history, “Chicago” has relied on celebrity (or stunt) casting in all its major roles to attract audiences. Among those who’ve played Mama on stage before are “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara (before the series broke out) and talk show host Wendy Williams.
Ms. Neuwirth is scheduled to play the role Jan. 14 through March 9. Carol Woods is currently playing Mama, and Roz Ryan — who has been Mama numerous times — will take over for the week before Ms. Neuwirth joins the production.