Using your ‘Mama’ to get audiences!

There are many aspects of genius to the musical Chicago, but as far as marketing goes, one stands out in particular.


We all know that a celebrity’s name associated with the musical draws larger audiences. So why wouldn’t you write that provision into the show, especially in a way that eases the popular celebrities of Hollywood onto a stage.

If you look at last year’s How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, it featured three popular actors in the lead role; Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas.

While these three actors may be very talented in their respective areas of movies, television and live performance, they require lots of training and rehearsal to take over the lead role that carries the whole musical.

What if you could decrease that training and rotate celebrities more often to take full advantage of many fan bases?

Well, Chicago knows how.

Over the years there have been many famous faces cast across all the main roles in Chicago, but if you are going to choose someone to take on the role of Velma Kelly or Roxie Hart then they need lots of training and rehearsal. Hence the pivotal role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.

Compared to the leads, Matron ‘Mama’ Morton spends very little time on stage with only the one attention-capturing number ‘When You’re Good To Mama’. But despite this lack of stage time, she holds a pivotal role in the musical and demands the devotion of the audience, similar to that of one of the two leads.

As a result, she is the perfect character through which to give Hollywood stars their taste of Broadway. The role doesn’t require too much training as these people are already very talented, there is only one song to finesse with the on-stage band and there is very little choreography. But from the show’s perspective, they get to draw in a new fan base every couple of months and keep the show fresh. Seems like a win-win situation to me!

Featured in this role over the years have been many famous actresses such as Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy), Gina Riley in the Australian version (Kath & Kim), currently Wendy Williams (The Wendy Williams Show) on Broadway and even Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)!

And each time one of these actresses swap into the role, Chicago gets to target a whole new group of people who wouldn’t usually come and see a Broadway show, but will buy tickets now that this new star is headlining.

Thanks Kander & Ebb – even if you didn’t write it in intentionally!

Let me know in the comments section below who you would like to see in any of the roles in Chicago.