Get set for murder, greed and razzle-dazzle decadence, as Chicago comes to town

ROXIE Hart was played by Ginger Rogers in the 1942 film of Chicago, while Renee Zellweger featured in the 2002 Oscar-winning remake.

Liza Minnelli, Christie Brinkley and Bebe Neuwirth are also among those who have played her in the musical version.

THAT’S CHICAGO: Glitz, glamour and murder are the name the of the game as Chicago swaggers onto stage at the New Victoria Theatre

But Coronation Street star Faye Brookes remains undaunted by taking on the role based on real-life murderer Beulah Annan, who shot her lover and pretended to be pregnant to gain sympathy.

“There have been real legends who’ve played this role before me but I’m not stepping into their shoes,” she explains. “I’m discovering Roxie’s personality night after night in different venues.

“She’s so complicated. She’s like an onion that you keep peeling away at because there are so many layers. Everybody assumes I’m just filling shoes but I’m not. I’m creating my own footsteps.”

Having come close to winning TV’s Dancing On Ice, former Guildford School of Acting student Faye is pleased to be back on stage, having previously played Princess Fiona in Shrek or as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Faye Brookes as Roxie Hart in Chicago

“It’s definitely been a while since being on the stage and it’s been unbelievable from the start,” she says. “The process began in lockdown with the audition. I never believed I’d get the opportunity to do this because we were moving through a new world of Zoom and it was a very, very strange time to get work.

“I had the fortunate job of Dancing on Ice during the pandemic. But Roxie in Chicago was a dream role that I’ve been waiting to get the opportunity to audition for. It was an ongoing process for six months and to finally get it is a dream. I love this role, that’s not a line I have to say to you.”

Chicago tells the story of chorus girl Roxie who murders Fred Casely as he attempts to break off an affair with her. She then convinces her husband Amos that the victim was a burglar, and Amos agrees to take the blame.

However, when the police mention the deceased’s name, Amos belatedly realizes that Roxie has lied to him. With both Roxie and Amos furious at each other for the other’s betrayal, Roxie confesses and is arrested.

“There’s nothing cute about Roxie, that’s something I was told from day one,” says Faye. “If you think you can manipulate her with cute tricks, then think again because it won’t work.

“She’s very, very clever and is always one step ahead of the game. So she knows exactly what she’s doing and that’s the character I have to portray.”

As for her years playing Kate Connor in Coronation Street, Faye says: “I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I had an assumption about soap actors and how it all works. I thought it would be easy, then I stepped on to the Street and I was completely blown away. I could not believe the fact that you have to know your craft inside out and back to front, then come in day after day and deliver.

“It is quick. You jump on the train and you don’t stop. I was very, very lucky to be brought into such an iconic family as the Connors. I was into family history as soon as I got there. I was given a family tree. I was looking at all the people who’d been there before me and it’s incredible.

“I’ve been watching it since I was a little girl. To be in it and up against these wonderful actors was incredible. I would gladly go back. For now, I am just loving my life back on the stage but if the timing was right, I’d happily return.”

Chicago will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, next week, from Monday 2 May until Saturday 7 May.

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