Brandy Norwood: Razzle Dazzles Em In “Chicago” on Broadway

Grammy winner Brandy Norwood made her Broadway debut in the long-running musical, “Chicago.”

Originally launched on the Great White Way in 1975, the Fred Ebb and John Kander production directed by Bob Fosse holds the distinction of being the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind only “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Chicago PosterSet in Prohibition-era Chicago and based on a 1926 play by the same name written by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about real-life criminals and crimes she reported on.

The satirical story on corruption and a tabloid tale of a 1920s murder trial through a smeared lens of vaudeville showmanship takes a comical look at the administration of criminal justice system and the idea of the ‘celebrity criminal.’

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Known for booking high-profile celebrities to star in the production—folks like Usher, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Chandra Wilson of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Brian McKnight, Jasmine Guy and Angie Stone have all starred in “Chicago”—casting of R&B veteran Brandy in the musical was a natural fit.

The former “Moesha” star best known for hits like ‘The Boy Is Mine,’ ‘Have You Ever?,’ ‘Almost Doesn’t Count’ and ‘I Wanna Be Down;’ it was refreshing hearing the 36-year-old vocal acrobatist adapt to the music of the historic production.

Brandy in "Chicago"

Brandy in “Chicago”

The McComb, Mississippi-bred entertainer tweaked the interpretation of her character Roxie Hart. While typically sassy, shady and slightly sinister, Brandy embodied a Roxie that was silly, sarcastic and smiled a lot — but it was effective nonetheless.

Many of the songs were lowered significantly in music key to fit Brandy’s husky alto voice. She also infused her signature riffs and runs into the Kander arrangements. But from her opening number ‘Funny Honey,’ it was clear that Brandy had found her place on the New York stage.

Whether she was performing her title song, ‘Roxie’ or numbers like ‘Nowadays’ and ‘My Own Best Friend;’ it was clear that the star of BET’s “The Game” brought a fresh perspective to Roxie and the outburst of spontaneous cheers the night attended from those in the capacity crowd meant they enjoyed every minute of it.

Brandy – who extended her initial limited engagement – will conclude her run in “Chicago” on Aug. 2. Here’s hoping its not her last time on a New York theater stage!

Brandy in Chicago

Brandy in Chicago

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