Christie Brinkley Razzle-Dazzles 'Em Once Again as Roxie in Chicago
The legendary supermodel rejoins the long-running musical for the third time.
When Christie Brinkley was first offered the role of Roxie Hart in Chicago, she was as surprised as anyone. In fact, she was so shocked that she made her agent, who had personally spoken to the casting team, call them back just to be sure that it wasn't a huge mix-up. But the internationally renowned supermodel and this iconic role turned out to be a match made in heaven. After debuting with the Broadway company in the spring of 2011, Brinkley transferred to the West End cast that summer, followed by a return to Broadway in 2012, and concluding with a 182-show stint in the national tour.
Now, after another recent trip with the touring cast, Brinkley has returned for her third stint as Roxie at the Ambassador Theatre, with her current engagement scheduled to conclude on May 12. While she's well aware that people may think of her performance as "stunt casting," she assures audiences that they'll get more than their money's worth.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Take me back to 2011. How did you find out that Chicago was interested in having you play Roxie?
My agent was going over my offers and he said, ""Chicago wants to know if you feel like playing Roxie." And I said, "Chicago'' on Broadway? Hold on a second. Are you sure that's for me?" I forced him to call again to verify that it was! I knew that I would have to audition, and I thought it would be the greatest story to be able to tell my kids that one day, I did a Broadway audition. I thought it was pretty gutsy of me, to just audition. I didn't think it would go any further than that.
I got a pair of little black exercise shorts and black stockings; I didn't know about dance shoes, so I put on a pair of tall black Louboutins. I did "Roxie," and I was really showbizzy about it, with big arms, the whole thing. And then they asked if I knew any songs from other shows, so I did a little portion of West Side Story, playing both Tony and Maria. A couple of days later, my agent told me I got the job, and I was like, "Wait, what? What?"
As someone who's not a trained dancer, is doing Ann Reinking's Fosse-style choreography really hard?
It's like pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time [laughs]. I only had 13 days of rehearsal this time, and I only had about four hours tops per day. I marvel at the dancers. Two weeks ago, when we were in Phoenix, we were working with Ann Reinking. I'm sitting there going, "I hope she doesn't change anything for me," but for the dancers, she'll say, "You know what? Instead of that, we're going to add this," and on a 5-6-7-8, they do it. They speak that language.
It's something else entirely for me, because it did not come naturally. I worked really, really hard to get prepared. I literally would be lying in my bed at night with my feet doing the steps. I knew that the only way I would be able to take the stage is if I knew that I could do it with my eyes closed. Obviously, I want to do everything perfectly, but Roxie is always learning, and she's a quick reactor. If, for example, I fall out of step for a second, she can always make a face, because she's picking up and absorbing everything around her. But the more I did it, the more I loved it.
This is your third time as Roxie on Broadway. How does it feel to return?
I'm having the time of my life. I love everything about the show so much. When I finished my run the first time, it was very emotional to sing "Nowadays," thinking that it was the last time. Then I did London, and then I came back to Broadway, and then I headlined the national tour. Each step along the way, I could not believe it was happening to me. There are people who might go, "Oh, she's just stunt-casting," but let me tell you something. You're gonna get your money's worth from everybody on that stage, and from all the razzle-dazzle that we're giving you. I don't know how I could ever top this.