She murders her own lover to realize her dreams. But despite her crime, she remains to be one of the most beloved women of the musical stage.
She is Roxie Hart, the protagonist—and antagonist—of the international box-office stage production Chicago.
On Tuesday, Broadway actress Bianca Marroquin who has been playing Roxie for the past decade arrived in the Philippines to officially launch the Manila run of the hit musical in December.
Joining Marroquin at the press conference at the Solaire Resort and Casino Ballroom in Pasay City was co-actress Terra MacLeod, who plays Velma Kelly, an equally important character in the well-known story.
Chicago tells the tale of the beautiful Roxie Hart who tries to avoid conviction from murder by hiring a lawyer who transforms her malicious act into a sensational media headline.
Describing the musical she knows from cover to cover, Marroquin shared, “In whatever country Chicago performs, everybody can relate to its story because it’s something that can happen in every culture. How people who commit crimes are sensationalized by the media and then become celebrities. [And it’s] a criticism of the system as well.”
She added that what makes the show truly interesting, even if it is minimalist in the sense that there is no grand stage design and elaborate costumes, is pure talent and a genius script.
Talking more about how she landed the coveted role, Marroquin recalled that she first auditioned for Roxie in her home of Mexico City in 2001. She landed the part for a local
run, and was quickly noted for her raw talent that within a year, she was invited to perform Broadway, New York. Thirteen years has passed since then and she still portrays Roxie as if it were her first time.
“Every time I leave the show and come back to it, I always have something new to offer. Because I myself in my life have matured, grown up, and so many things have happened to me,” Marroquin expressed.
“The only constant thing in life is change. And the only constant thing in my life is Roxie,” she continued. “The only one waiting for me with open arms is Roxie. The only familiar place in my life is that dressing room. It is a beautiful thing.”
Meanwhile, MacLeod has also played the role of Velma for a long time, ever since she was first cast for the part in the original French adaptation of Chicago in Montreal, Canada. For the equally talented lady, the musical is a “timeless classic.”
“I think what makes it work is that it has so much truth in it—its dark humor with the global themes of crime, corruption, and media sensationalism. And now even the social media does that too. That has a huge play on how things are interpreted by society.”
Chicago is the brainchild of Bob Fosse, whose multiple hats for the production include co-author, original director and choreographer. His co-creators are John Kander for music and Fred Ebb who wrote the lyrics. The trio first staged Chicago on Broadway in 1975.
“I think it was ahead of its time then—glorious!” Marroquin enthused. The show was only revived in November 1996 by producers Barry and Fran Weissler on Broadway, and a year later in London’s West End.
“The revival is going on 18 years by November. And then on the 23rd [of the month], it w
ill break the record as the longest American show in Broadway,” she proudly added.
Chicago has staged a total of 7,486 performances around the world, having opened in 24 countries, and translated into 11 languages.
Moreover, the musical satire has also garnered six Tony Awards and two Laurence Olivier Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Cast Recording.
The dance of Fosse
Fosse’s brilliance as creator, director and choreographer of Chicago is highly regarded in the Broadway and West End circles. The play is considered a masterpiece that preserves his artistic style on dance.
To share the genius of Fosse, Marroquin related that his dance is very different from classical ballet where movements are always done outwards.
“Fosse’s was inwards and it’s beautiful!” she lauded.
For MacLeod, Fosse’s dance “communicates.” She explained, “The dancers’ bodies are also a language. The movement tells a story. One requirement of the show is having enough confidence in your body and presence on stage so you can deliver the message of the show.”
Broadway all the way
The Manila run of Chicago is produced by James Cundall’s Lunchbox Theatrical, David Atkins Enterprises and Concertus Manila.
Cundall, through a video message, proudly announced that with ChicaGo, they are finally bringing the local audience a “truly all-American Broadway cast.”
The three companies, with support of corporate partners, were behind the highly successful Manila staging of Cats, Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.
Onstage from December 2 to 21, Chicago is the opening salvo of the brand new The Theater at Solaire Resort and Casino.
For more information, call TicketWorld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph and www.ChicagoTheMusical.com.