The multi-talented Claudia Shear joins the cast of Chicago for an eight-week season between 31 March and 25 May. The American actress and playwright takes on the role of corrupt prison warden Mama Morton, opposite Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Rachel McDowall as Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, and Terence Maynard and Paul Rider as Billy Flynn and Amos Hart.
Shear is best known this side of the Atlantic for her duel role as writer and star of Dirty Blonde, which played at the Duke of York’s in 2004. In the play with music she starred as both Mae West fan Jo, and as the iconic actress too. Dirty Blonde played on Broadway in 2000, receiving Tony nominations including Best New Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Shear.
Shear first came to prominence for her 1994 solo show, Blown Sideways Through Life, which she also starred in and wrote. The piece, which was based on Shear’s previous employment history of more than 64 jobs including pastry chef, nude model and brothel receptionist, ran for more than 220 performances off-Broadway. She has also appeared in an episode of American sitcom Friends, playing ‘fake Monica’.
Chicago, the musical tale of murderous showgirls intent on using their notoriety to increase their salaries as nightclub performers, is currently playing at the Cambridge theatre. When the current production opened at the Adelphi in 1997, it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production, going on to become that theatre’s longest running show before moving to the Cambridge in April 2006.
Chicago celebrated its 10th birthday last year with a star-studded celebrity gala performance featuring many of the stars who have previously appeared in the musical, including Denise Van Outen, Darius Danesh, Bonnie Langford, Claire Sweeney, Tony Hadley, Kelly Osbourne and Ruthie Henshall.
Chicago is currently booking to February 2009. em>MA