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Trans actress Angelica Ross will make history on Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — The fictional character Roxie Hart has many gruesome attributes — she’s adulterous, narcissistic, scheming, manipulative and murderous. Next week it will also be something unexpected: Inspirational.

“Pose” star Angelica Ross will take the stage Monday in Hart’s high heels, becoming the first openly transgender woman to play a lead role on Broadway.

“I think of the trans women who are looking at me right now and now think it’s possible,” Ross told The Associated Press. “I’m really excited to kiss the public like they kiss me.”

Ross’s journey to the Ambassador Theater seems near fatal, beginning as a youngster who loved musical theater in Racine, Wisconsin. “I’ve been in musical theater since probably freshman year,” she says.

Sleepy’s early roles in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ – “I was a ham”, she admits – led to playing Tyrone in ‘Fame’ and Billy in ‘Anything Goes’. She’s seen Broadway shows like “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “The Color Purple,” and “On Your Feet!”

“That’s really the liveliness of this one for me. As a television actor, there are a lot of cuts. There are a lot of ins and outs of the moment and you have to come back into the moment. But I love the live moments on stage. I like silence.”

Set in the 1920s, “Chicago” is a scathing satire of how show business and the media turn celebrities into criminals. It has Bob Fosse-inspired choreography, skimpy outfits, and killer songs like “All That Jazz” and “Cell Block Tango.”

It tells the story of Hart, a housewife and dancer who murders her lover after he threatens to leave her. To avoid conviction, she hires Chicago’s most skilled criminal attorney to help her fool the public, the media, and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by creating shocking headlines.

“Roxie is quick on her feet to get herself out of trouble. She knows her feminine ways,” Ross explains. “I feel like so many women, including trans women, have had to navigate a male-dominated environment and have had issues with other people having the vision to see their talent.”

Ross says she very much identifies with Roxie and Velma’s first act closing song, “My Own Best Friend”, where the two women sing “I play in a game/where I make the rules”.

“I’m playing a game where I make the rules and the #1 rule from here until the end is I’m my best friend,” she quotes the lyrics. “I just know that there were times in my life when I wasn’t. When I was in chorus with everyone saying negative things about me.

The star-hungry heroine at the heart of “Chicago” has been played by dozens of women since the show opened in 1996, including Melanie Griffith, Christie Brinkley, Marilu Henner, Brooke Shields, Lisa Rinna, Gretchen Mol, Ashlee Simpson , Brandy Norwood , Jennifer Nettles and Robin Givens. Pamela Anderson made headlines earlier this year when she played Roxie.

“Chicago” producer Barry Weissler welcomed all the new Roxies and was impressed with his latest star: “She’s just a wonderful actress. She sings, she dances, she has personality. What more could I ask for? »

Ross, whose credits also include “American Horror Story: 1984,” “Transparent,” “Claws” and “Doubt,” will begin an eight-week run beginning Monday.

She joins a Broadway that is beginning to open its arms to transgender actors. In 2018, “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” star Peppermint became the first openly trans woman to land a starring role on Broadway, starring in Go-Go’s jukebox musical “Head Over Heels.” This spring, L Morgan Lee made history as the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Tony Award for her work as a starring actress in the musical “A Strange Loop.”

Other Broadway actors who have identified as trans include Alexandra Billings in “The Nap,” Becca Blackwell in “Is This a Room,” and Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe in “Straight White Men.”

Ross, who worked with a vocal coach, acting coach and “Chicago” dance captain before her Broadway debut, even surprised herself at what she’s capable of.

“I project my voice without a mic into the back of the theater and fill it out in a way that I didn’t even know I could do. There are high notes in some songs, and I hit them effortlessly. And it’s just that moment where I look up and I’m just like, I see when I was on stage in Racine, Wisconsin. I see all those moments add up and I’m just like, ‘This is what it was meant to be.'”

The Huffington Gt

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