Chicago The Musical Press Launch

Chicago turns 21 this year and thankfully returns to its rightful place in the West End with a super stellar cast. Including record-breaking Ruthie Henshall, the only person to have played all three leading lady roles, and Academy Award-Winner Cuba Gooding Jr.

I attended the press launch on behalf of  Stage Faves check out my pictures and videos below. After the presentation I was fortunate to be offered the chance to have a brief chat with Sarah Soetaert, Josefina Gabrielle, Ruthie Henshall and Cuba Gooding Jr. So below you can read a couple of questions answered by each of the cast.

Josefina Gabrielle – Velma (Josefina on Stage Faves)

You’ve done Stepping Out and now you are in Chicago, two very different productions – What do you like about Chicago?

It’s the full meal! Brilliantly written, fantastic music, Bob Fosse choreography and of course Bob Fosse created it back in the 70’s. He created it and legends on Broadway performed it, who we all revere. The material is so rich, you feel you are continuing a legacy of exquisite work. It’s an honour to do it.

So tell me – my readers are young and some will only know it from the film – why should they come and see the stage show? 

I think the film focuses a lot on the story and there is music and dance. Whereas the stage show which is the original is set up like a Vaudeville show. So the characters are different, it’s quite stylised and each one has their own character. Each act brings a flavour as they would have with a variety show. You still have the story and it’s still told but you have a lot of humour and there’s a lots of sass and singing. So it’s a passion and a feeling that you get from seeing a stage show. And it’s so sexy!

Sarah Soetaert – Roxie Hart (Sarah on Stage Faves)  

You need to be sassy and sexy in the role of Roxie? How do you get into character, every day? 

I think you just go to that place and it’s a combination of things it builds up? It’s the choreography, the story the music as soon as you hear that opening trumpet, that sassiness is there for me.

It’s a journey you do the warm up, the vocal, you see your colleagues, you get your costume on, make-up and lippy and there you are. By the time curtain comes up you are there because you want to be.

Whats your favourite number? 

Ooh that’s a hard one, I would say Nowadays because you’ve witnessed Roxie’s change of character and journey by then. The lyrics are really good, it tells a story.

If you could have any role what would you choose?

The role for me is always going to be Roxie. Is that why you keep returning to her? Yes because she grows and I grow and it evolves.

Could you see yourself being like Ruthie and moving through the three roles.

I don’t think so, I don’t think I have a Velma in me? Maybe a Mama Morton but not a Velma.

Ruthie Henshall – Mama Morton (Ruthie on Stage Faves)

So Ruthie how does it feel to be a record-breaker playing all three female leads at some point? 

I know, I didn’t realise I was, but isn’t lovely. It wasn’t intentional at all but I’ll take it. When they were talking about reviving the show and they asked me about Velma and you know, I just felt I’ve done them. For me it was about doing something new and I wanted a new challenge. And you know the role of Mama,  I didn’t even have to think about it. It was a kind of no-brainer.

What has been your favourite role of all time?

It’s still for me, Polly in Crazy For You. That will remain my favourite always.

Which roles do you aspire to?

At some point it would be something like Mama Rose in Gypsy or Dolly in Hello Dolly. I’m ok with getting older and those roles are really meaty which is what I want to be doing not now but in the future.

Cuba Gooding Jr – Billy Flynn (Cuba on Stage Faves)

How does it feel when your name is announced as an Academy Award Winner?

You mean for the first time or anytime you are announced as an Academy Award Winner? (Laughing) Like you are a part of history. I’ve met people who have influenced nations from presidents to artists and it gives you a bit of confidence to know that what you are doing will be appreciated. For the positive or the negative it will still be a part of history. I think that’s all you can do as a human being is to make statements so that people can learn and heal and feel connected with you and what you are doing.

So tell me about the draw of the West End?

Oh you know, there’s certain feathers you want to put in your actors cap.  Academy Award, Broadway and the West End, in the same country as Shakespeare was born and Sir Lawrence Olivier acted. But to do it as a musical wow. I mean a musical in itself would be a feather in my cap but to put two feathers in one slot at the same time is er horrifying and intimidating. But if you don’t get nervous before a performance the next you aren’t putting enough into it.

It’s all about getting the adrenaline pumping then? 

I’m an adrenaline entertainment junky, I love adrenaline. Because I say to myself, the audience have come to see you do something they didn’t know you were going to do. And so that propels me to be myself.

Talking of things they didn’t know you were going to do, do we see you tap dance?

I’m not going to tell you that (laughing) that’s like telling you the end of a movie, when the other person doesn’t know? You are going to have to see it – I’ll even buy you ticket (it’s not every day you get that said to you) You are gonna be there aren’t you – oh yes!

Best role to date?

Thats like asking what’s your favourite pair of shoes? You know, you think am I going to an award show or training? I think Man of Honor – that role changed my life!

I could put so much more in here from all of the actors but as Cuba says YOU need to see the show! Everything you need to know is in the listings below.

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Phoenix Theatre
110 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0JP

Box Office: 0844 871 7629 / www.atgtickets.com/shows/chicago/phoenix-theatre

Ticket Prices: From £20.00

Performances: Monday-Saturday 8pm, Wednesday & Saturday 3pm

Booking Period: Currently Booking Until 6th October 2018

Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (with interval)

Website: ChicagoWestEnd.com
Twitter: @ChicagoOnStage

Here are three short videos taken on my iPhone at the launch

 

 

 

 

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