Following in the fabulous footsteps of Broadway legend Gwen Verdon is Michelle Williams. The Grammy-winning former Destiny’s Child singing sensation Michelle is playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago, now through May 9th at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. And she is putting her own spin on the role.
“Roxie seemed spunky and smart to me, always thinking on her toes. Also kooky, funny and manipulative. So I’m doing all of that and bringing a new, cool brightness to her,” she told me.
Michelle admitted she might share a few of those qualities with Roxie. “I think I’m funny and smart, and I’m always on my toes. But, thank goodness, the way Roxie manipulated people is not part of my nature. She lied, she cheated on her husband, and she killed the lover. I am so definitely not like her in those areas.”
Over the decades audiences have embraced Chicago with all its Kander and Ebb show-stopping song and dance numbers. But Michelle thinks its success goes beyond that. “Even though it’s a story set in the ’20s, it’s timeless. It shows us that some things never change. Roxie and Velma are great examples of that. So is the razzle-dazzling of the court system, and what attorneys do to get their clients off. We all know that goes on nowadays. Like I said, some things never change. So it’s a show you can see time and time again.”
Michelle’s friends from Destiny’s Child, Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, have seen her in the show. “It’s been nice to look into the audience and see them with big smiles on their faces. It’s great to still have the support of one another long after Destiny’s Child.”
Great musicals seem to be part of Michelle’s own destiny. Not only has she starred in Chicago on Broadway and in London, but she also drew raves in Aida and The Color Purple. And she revealed a secret desire to do many more Broadway shows, noting that playing Daisy Mae in Lil’ Abner is on her wish list. With all her perkiness and energy, I think Michelle would razzle-dazzle them in any role. She’s a blast.
TV Land Awards air Sunday, April 25
The 8th Annual TV Land Awards will feature a lot of music when it airs Sunday, April 25. Hosted by Tim Allen, the star-studded celebration was taped at Sony Studios (on Stage 15 where The Wizard of Oz was filmed). A great cruise ship production number launched the evening with singer Jack Jones (looking good and in fine voice) belting out his signature Love Boat theme from the classic series. The Love Boat was honored with the Fan Favorite Award, and original cast members Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Ted McGinley, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan, and popular “Cuchi-cuchi” guest star Charo accepted the award. It was presented by Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White, the stars of TV Land’s upcoming sitcom Hot in Cleveland, which may become a “future classic.”
Actually, TV Land hands out a Future Classic Award, and this year Paula Abdul presented it to the stars of the hot FOX musical series Glee.
Taking a cue from the Glee folks, the TV Land Awards finale was a performance by the “TV Land Glee Club,” with stars from classic TV shows. Shirley Jones, Marion Ross, Richard Karn, Fred Willard, Jamie Farr, Marla Gibbs, Marcia Wallace, Howard Hesseman, Richard Moll, Jimmy Walker, Todd Bridges, Joyce Dewitt, Marilu Henner and David Hasselhoff made up the awesome choir. They performed a rollicking version of Glee’s anthem, Don’t Stop Believin’. More music highlights included Debbie Harry and Blondie rocking the soundstage performing One Way or Another.
Some wonderful shows were also honored. The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond picked up the Impact Award from Bob Newhart. Jay Leno gave out the Anniversary Award to the cast of Bosom Buddies, and Tom Hanks was happy to reminisce with his castmates Peter Scolari, Donna Dixon, Telma Hopkins and Holland Taylor.
The Pop Culture Award was presented by Pamela Anderson to Charlie’s Angels cast members Cheryl Ladd and Jaclyn Smith. A touching tribute to Farrah Fawcett was made with Ryan O’Neal introducing film clips. Comedy icons Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner got the Legend Award handed to them by Billy Crystal.
The TV Land Awards pay tribute to classics, and for eight years now executive producer Michael Levitt has presented a classy show full of nostalgia and lots of fun. Tune in and cruise down memory lane.