NEW YORK (AP) — The fictional character Roxie Hart has many terrible attributes — she’s adulterous, narcissistic, scheming, manipulating and murderous. Next week she’ll even be one thing sudden: Inspirational.
“Pose” star Angelica Ross on Monday will step onstage in Hart’s excessive heels, changing into the primary overtly transgender lady to play a number one half on Broadway.
“I think about the trans women who are looking at me right now and are now thinking that this is possible,” Ross tells The Associated Press. “I am really excited to embrace the audience as they embrace me.”
Ross’ journey to the Ambassador Theatre appears virtually fated, beginning as a teen who liked musical theater in Racine, Wisconsin. “I’ve been in musical theater since probably first grade,” she says.
Early roles as Sleepy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — “I was a ham,” she admits — led to enjoying Tyrone in “Fame” and Billy in “Anything Goes.” She noticed Broadway reveals like “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “The Color Purple” and “On Your Feet!”
“It’s really the liveness of it for me. As an actor on television, there’s a lot of cuts. There’s a lot of in and out of the moment and having to get back in the moment. But I love the live moments on stage. I love the silence.”
Set within the Twenties, “Chicago” is a scathing satire of how present enterprise and the media make celebrities out of criminals. It has Bob Fosse-inspired choreography, skimpy outfits and killer songs similar to “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango.”
It tells the story of Hart, a housewife and dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to depart her. To keep away from conviction, she hires Chicago’s slickest prison lawyer to assist her dupe the general public, media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by creating stunning headlines.
“Roxie’s quick on her feet getting herself out of trouble. She knows her womanly ways,” says Ross. “I feel like so many women, including trans women, have had to navigate a male-dominated environment and have had trouble with other people having the vision to see their talent.”
Ross says she identifies so much with Roxie and Velma’s Act One closing tune, “My Own Best Friend,” the place the 2 ladies sing “I play in a game/where I make the rules.”
“I play in a game where I make the rules and rule No. 1 from here ’till the end is I am my own best friend,” she quotes the lyrics. “I just know there have been times in my life when I wasn’t. When I was in chorus with everyone else saying negative things about me.”
The celebrity-craving heroine on the coronary heart of “Chicago″ has been played by dozens of women since the show opened in 1996, including Melanie Griffith, Christie Brinkley, Marilu Henner, Brooke Shields, Lisa Rinna, Gretchen Mol, Ashlee Simpson, Brandy Norwood, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Givens. Pamela Anderson made headlines earlier this year when she played Roxie.
“Chicago” producer Barry Weissler has welcomed all the new Roxies and has been impressed by his newest star: “She’s just a wonderful actress. She sings, she dances, she has personality. What else could I ask for?”
Ross, whose credit additionally embody “American Horror Story: 1984,” “Transparent,” “Claws” and “Doubt,” will begin an eight-week run starting Monday.
She joins a Broadway that’s beginning to open its arms to transgender actors. In 2018, “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” star Peppermint turned the primary overtly trans lady to originate a featured function on Broadway, starring within the Go-Go’s jukebox musical “Head Over Heels.” This spring, L Morgan Lee made historical past as the primary overtly transgender individual to be nominated for a Tony Award for her work as a featured actress within the musical “A Strange Loop.”
Other Broadway actors who’ve recognized as trans embody Alexandra Billings in “The Nap,” Becca Blackwell within the play “Is This a Room,” and Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe in “Straight White Men.”
Ross, who has been working with a vocal coach, an performing coach and the dance captain at “Chicago” forward of her Broadway debut, has even shocked herself at what she’s able to doing.
“I’m projecting my voice without a mic to the back of the theater and filling it up in ways that I even didn’t know that I could do. There’s some high notes in some of the songs, and I’m hitting them without effort. And it’s just this moment where I look up and I’m just like, I see when I was on stage in Racine, Wisconsin. I see all these moments adding up and I’m just like, ‘This is what this was supposed to be.’”