MARK KENNEDY, AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Starring on Broadway in “Chicago” has turned into a fountain of youth for Brandy Norwood.
“I have more life in me than I’ve ever had in a very long time. I feel 15 again. I feel like a kid,” the Grammy-winner said last week. “We all have a kid in us. My kid is wide awake. Baby Brandy is up and ready to go.”
The singer of hits like “I Wanna Be Down” and “The Boy Is Mine” as well as the star of the ’90s sitcom “Moesha” started an 8-week stint in the sexy musical, which marks her professional stage debut.
Brandy plays Roxie Hart, a wannabe vaudevillian star who murders her lover and is arrested. It’s showing off the singer’s sensual, naughty side as she dances and sings in some very short outfits.
“I’m going to give it everything I’ve got,” she said. “I may not have the prettiest feet, because I’m pigeon-toed naturally. I may not have the straightest leg. But I’m going to give this everything I have.”
The show, which includes the songs “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango,” is a scathing satire of how show business and the media make celebrities out of criminals.
Others who have played Roxie include Marilu Henner, Lisa Rinna, Bebe Neuwirth, Sandy Duncan and Christie Brinkley. Brandy saw the show when it starred Usher as Billy Flynn, Roxie’s slick lawyer, in 2006.
Members of Brandy’s family were in the audience April 28 when she made her debut. One of those most impressed was her 12-year-old daughter, Sy’rai, who was in tears. “She said, ‘Mommy, you were phenomenal!’ It was as if she had never seen me in that way,” Brandy said.
Doing Broadway at 36 may be outside Brandy’s comfort zone but that was the hope. She said she realized her life and career in Los Angeles had become stagnant about eight months ago.
“Change needed to happen for my life. I wasn’t in a very good place,” she said. “I didn’t like it that I hadn’t been dreaming in a very long time. And so I changed my mind. I wanted to dream again. I wanted to live again and be vibrant. I wanted to be me.”
Brandy said she was in part inspired by Keke Palmer, who made her professional stage debut in 2014 as the first African-American Cinderella on Broadway. Palmer said at the time that it was Brandy’s turn as Cinderella in a 1997 TV movie that helped her decide to take the plunge.
“She’s inspired me as much as I’ve inspired her,” said Brandy.
Her stage experience has left Brandy bubbling with creativity. She’d love to come back and be Roxie again or do something else on Broadway. She’d also love to have a role in the upcoming in “The Wiz” (“Can I audition for Dorothy? Glinda?” she asked, laughing). And another CD will definitely happen.
One thing is certain: Being in “Chicago” has reinvigorated the actress and singer. “I will never go back. Never, ever go back. Onward and upward,” she said. “I’m just so thankful.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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