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Christie Brinkley: 'Chicago' And 'All That Jazz'

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
By Dawn Watson   May 1, 2012 12:29 PM

It was 6 o’clock on a Tuesday, and a mere two hours before one of her final Broadway performances of “Chicago,” but a casual observer might have thought that Christie Brinkley had all the time in the world.

Having just arrived from the 26th annual Broadway Cares Easter Bonnet Competition—where she donned a bright yellow dress and fuschia hat, the crown overflowing with flowers—the barefoot star slipped on a pair of candy-apple red pumps, a perfect match to her newest outfit of the day—a crisp red button-down blouse and floral patterned capri pants.

“Would you like some water?” the laid-back, gracious host asked before reaching for a bottle on her makeup station and taking a sip in her backstage dressing room at the Ambassador Theatre in Manhattan.

Although Ms. Brinkley’s final New York performance as murderess Roxie Hart was a few days later, on Friday, April 27, the show will go on. She and her costar, Amra-Faye Wright as the homicidal Velma Kelly, will take the show to Ms. Brinkley’s home state of California when “Chicago” stages in San Diego from May 8 to 13 and at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles from May 15 to 27, finishing the national tour with a few dates in July and August in Durham, North Carolina.

But before taking the show on the road, Ms. Brinkley said she plans on spending some quality time with her family—parents Marge and Don Brinkley and children, Alexa Ray, Jack Paris and Sailor—at home in Sag Harbor.

“I was champing at the bit to do the show again on Broadway, which I love,” she said. “And when we finish, I get to putter around back home in the Hamptons for a week ... in my art studio, in my garden, with my kids, with my mom and dad.”

This has been Ms. Brinkley’s second stint on Broadway as Roxie. She initially performed the role for a limited run last year in Manhattan, as well as on the West End stage in London for four weeks.

Before she auditioned for the part, the world-famous then 57-year-old model said she didn’t think a Broadway show was a possibility for her, particularly the daunting Kander and Ebb musical, with choreography by Bob Fosse (“They spend half the show with their knees behind their left ears,” she said, referring to stars Bebe Neuwirth and Anne Reinking in their turns as Velma and Roxie), though it was something she had always wanted to do.

“I had no recollection I could actually do that,” she laughed. “But I didn’t want to think ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda,’ I wanted to audition for a Broadway play; I had the nerve, the guts, the gumption to do it, so I did my best Judy and Liza imitation, donned my black tap shorts, a black fedora and some fishnets, and I sang my heart out and pretended to dance,” she said.

She added that the song she sang in that audition was “Hot Honey Rag,” which is a duet for Roxie and Velma.

“I came down the right wing of the stage and Ann Reinking [who is the current choreographer of the show] was sitting there front and center. ‘Take it from nowadays,’ they said. Afterward, Ann said, ‘You got me, you made me well up and you made me smile,’” Ms. Brinkley remembered, smiling. “Then she said, ‘Remember, have fun every time you go out there.’ And I do. I do have fun every time I go out there.”

The fun she’s having is apparent on Ms. Brinkley’s face when she performs. Though she’s admittedly not a lifelong song-and-dance gal like most of her co-stars, she is fetchingly watchable as Roxie whenever she’s on stage.

“She’s just a fun character to play. She moves from one emotion to the next really quickly; she acts out as it goes along and she’s impulsive,” Ms. Brinkley said of Roxie. “She’s always in the moment.”

Looking forward for a moment, she said that she’d love to do more live theater.

“‘Cabaret’ would be a great one,” she said. “And my friends keep telling me that ‘Front Page’ would be good. All that fast-talking, 40s style would be swell,” she added in her best fast-talking 40s-style voice.

But being in the moment, and enjoying the moment, is of utmost importance to the star, who counts time painting in her art studio (she painted the cover of ex-husband, Billy Joel’s album “River of Dreams”), enjoying nature and being on the water with her children.

“We really use the water. We like to go clamming and digging for steamers. We like to get up early and go fishing. We spend a lot of time on the bays—in the Zodiac, the Sunfish, in kayaks and stand-up paddleboards,” she said. “We like to explore all the nooks and crannies. We like to shove off the coast in a little boat and go exploring, especially the patches of coastline that are uninhabited.”

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Christie is such a wonderful, charitable, kindhearted, darling member of this community as well as the community of mankind! I hope she knows how much she is loved and respected and that those healthy enough to be happy for the good fortune of others are thrilled for her well earned success on the Broadway stage now too!!! What a sparkling, lovely dynamo she is!
By CMoore222 (2), new york on May 1, 12 1:40 PM
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