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What would Wilhelmina Slater say?  Ugly Betty star America Ferrera is to lead the cast when Chicago moves to its new home at the Garrick Theatre from 7th November.

She will play manipulative killer with a thirst for the spotlight Roxie Hart, while the role of rival jailbird Velma Kelly is to be played by Amra-Faye Wright who is currently starring in the Broadway production.   Chicago originally played at the Cambridge Theatre in 1979 for 603 performances.  It enjoyed a successful revival at the Adelphi Theatre in 1997 where it played until it transferred to the Cambridge in 2006.  It remained there ever since until it closed on 27th August this year to make way for Matilda, the hotly anticipated musical based on the Roald Dahl classic.  The show will re-open at its new home at the Garrick Theatre. 

The longevity of its second incarnation was helped in no small part by the success of the multiple Oscar-winning 2002 film version directed by Rob Marshall.  Catherine Zeta-Jones took home a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role of Velma Kelly, while Renee Zellweger's Roxie and Richard Gere's Billy Flynn both won rave reviews.  The film took home six Oscars in total including one for best film.  Over the years the London stage version has seen numerous stars in the leading roles including Denise Van Outen, Jill Halfpenny, Brooke Shields, Jennifer Ellison, Ruthie Henshall, Ute Lemper, Bonnie Langford, Claire Sweeney, Jerry Springer, Tony Hadley, Ian Kelsey and David Hasselhoff.

America Ferrera shot to public attention with the title role in 2006 American TV hit Ugly Betty about a plain girl with dreams of entering the cut-throat fashion industry.  She won a Golden Globe as Best Actress In A Comedy Series as well as a SAG award and an Emmy.  Ugly Betty ran for four seasons, with Betty's arch enemy and larger than life villain Wilhelmina Slater feistily played by singer Vanessa Williams.  Williams has recently joined the cast of Desperate Housewives, currently in its final season.   London Theatre Direct thinks the Save The Best For Last singer would make the perfect Velma Kelly when Housewives wraps as Williams is no stranger to Broadway with leading roles in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman and Bye Bye Birdie.  Betty and Wilhelmina locking horns on the West End stage?  Fingers crossed for the future!

Book Chicago tickets online now.

[posted by James, 12/10/2011]

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