Head-to-head interview: Chicago's new-old murderesses Roxie & Velma

03 Apr
Posted in: Features Interviews
Sarah Soetaert & Josefina Gabrielle

What better in the run-up to the opening night for CHICAGO, back in the West End at London’s Phoenix Theatre, than a series of interviews from Caroline Hanks-Farmer with the show’s stars? We start with cellmates Sarah Soetaert (Roxie) and Josefina Gabrielle (Velma).

Sarah and Josefina will be appearing in Kander and Ebb’s multi-award-winning show alongside Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr who makes his British stage and musical debut as Billy Flynn and West End favourite Ruthie Henshall who will step into the role of Mama Morton.

Sarah (Carousel, Fame) returns to the role of Roxie Hart which she previously played at the Cambridge and Garrick Theatres. Another former Roxie, Josefina (Oklahoma!, The Witches of Eastwick) will be the production’s Velma Kelly, after previously playing Roxie at the Adelphi and Cambridge Theatres.

Josefina Gabrielle

What do you like best about Chicago?
It’s brilliantly written, has fantastic music, Bob Fosse choreography, and of course, Fosse created it back in the 70s. He created it and legends on Broadway performed it, who we all revere. The material is so rich, you feel you are continuing a legacy of exquisite work. It’s an honour to do it.

Some young readers will only know the musical from the film – why should they come and see the stage show? 
I think the film focuses a lot on the story and there is music and dance. Whereas the stage show has the original set up which is like a vaudeville show. So the characters are different, it’s quite stylised and each one has their own personality. Each act brings a flavour as they would have with a variety show. You still have the story and it’s still told but you have a lot of humour. There’s lots of sass and singing. So it’s a passion and a feeling that you get from seeing a stage show. And it's so sexy…

Sarah Soetaert

You need to be sassy and sexy in the role of Roxie? How do you get into character every day? 
I think you just go to that place and it’s a combination of things that builds up. It’s the choreography, the story, the music, as soon as you hear that opening trumpet, that sassiness is there for me.

It’s a journey, you do the warm-up, the vocal, you see your colleagues, you get your costume on, make-up and lippy, and there you are. By the time the curtain comes up, you are there because you want to be.

What’s your favourite number? 
Ooh, that's a hard one, I would say ‘Nowadays’ because you’ve witnessed Roxie’s change of character and journey by then. The lyrics are really good, they tell a story.

If you could have any role, what would you choose?
The role for me is always going to be Roxie. She grows and I grow and it evolves.