In ‘Chicago’ (And Life!) Christie Brinkley Is The Epitome of Young at (Roxie) Hart
By Stacey Gualandi
Back By Popular Demand.
For 65-year-old Christie Brinkley, those four words are music to her ears. The legendary supermodel returns to the role of murderess-with-moxie Roxie Hart, the iconic character in America’s longest-running Broadway musical, Chicago. The Tony-winning hit is currently on a national tour starring the Sports Illustrated swimsuit icon, and will make its next stop April 10-14 at The Venetian Theatre inside The Venetian® Resort Las Vegas for a seven-show engagement.
“When I got the request to do it, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I just have to do this. I love it,”
Brinkley first stepped into Roxie’s tap shoes and tights 8 years ago and continued off and on for 2 years to critical acclaim. She said her final farewell in 2013, so it was a big surprise when she got a text from her favorite producer, Barry Weissler, asking if she would like to revisit the role.
“I thought, ‘Let me just check the date on this! Ha!’” admits Brinkley, who wondered if her phone had accidentally re-sent an old text from back when Weissler first approached her.
I recently met with the actress and singer at The Dorsey lounge at the Venetian, where she had just caught a glimpse of her famous face on the hotel’s marquis…something she still can’t comprehend 25 years after a helicopter crash nearly took her life.
“A 20-year-old Christie came [to Las Vegas] once, and I remember looking at all of this and thinking, ‘Wow, wow, wow,’ she says. “This is like…just unbelievable. I never, ever would’ve thought I would be up there. No, never. I’m still asking, ‘Can I sing and dance?’ And they’re trying to convince me that I can.”
That said, don’t expect Brinkley to burst into a booming Broadway bravado: This devoted mother of three says she loves telling a story. “Roxie is talking to you, and occasionally she hits the notes; but I’m trying to convey what she’s feeling and what’s happening and moving it forward. Much like Rex Harrison [in My Fair Lady].”
Following Las Vegas, the record-breaking CoverGirl is back-on-the-boards for a limited 4-week engagement on Broadway starting April 18. In the meantime, balancing her Christie Brinkley Beauty and Bellissima Prosecco brands with workouts and dress rehearsals, Brinkley says she has no plans to retire, let alone take a “vacation.” But she did “take 5” to talk to me!
And a 5-6-7-8….
DELUXE VERSION MAGAZINE: So…did you text back “yes” to Barry Weissler right away?
CHRISTIE BRINKLEY: I thought, “Okay, before I answer, let me run to the gym. Let me just go for a run. Let me feel like if I can still do it and have the stamina.” I just wanted to make sure that I could do it, because…it’s been 6 years since I did the show. And then finally, I felt like, “Okay, I think I’ve got the stamina. I don’t remember that much, but I think I remember enough that I think we can do this.”
DVM: Do you feel like you are in the same space now as you were on your original run?
CB: I feel like I’m still discovering stuff about Roxie. My team that’s surrounding me right now, they are so passionate about the material. My stage manager director, David Hyslop, will say little things and I’ll go, “Wow, I never really noticed that.” Like, the show opens with Funny Honey, and it closes with Honey Rag. And from one scene I’m led off, and I’m, like, praying, and then some other scenes take place…but when you see me again, I’m still praying. And I’m putting together these things that I kind of hadn’t grasped the last time. I feel like I can sort of play around with her a little bit more.
DVM: You posted on Instagram the day you saw yourself on The Venetian Hotel marquis: “Pretty hard to squeeze my feelings about this in a sound bite..so I’ll just go ahead and post this without a comment, as my mind races over the many dreams and hopes and fears and disappointments and tears and successes and failures that brought me to this moment … and maybe I can sum it up later…and maybe not, but that’s ok too.” Are you able to sum it up now?
CB: It was a real emotional moment. I was so shocked by that…nobody told me that I was on that billboard! And I came walking around the corner, and all of a sudden, I went, “Whoa. Whoa.” What a winding road I have been on that has led me to this moment, where I’m looking up at a billboard on the Las Vegas Strip, and it’s me. And I realize that none of this would be happening if some of the worst things that have happened to me hadn’t happened. Some of that helped me to be strong, and so I was feeling all this stuff welling up in me of…I mean, I could like…I’m getting all emotional now, but I realized at that moment that whatever you’re going through, good or bad or whatever, it’s all going to make you who you are and help you in many ways that you don’t know and maybe aren’t aware as it’s happening. I was suddenly really grateful for all the various highs and lows of my life.
DVM: You are 65! You don’t come with an expiration date!
CB: For Barry to offer [the role] to me was really wonderful, and I hear actresses constantly talking about how you hit a certain age, and the offers don’t come in anymore. I think that we’re changing that a lot because, frankly, we are healthier today. We’re a generation that has been exercising, has been eating right, and so we feel good. But so many women, despite that, still get influenced. There’s so many things in the media that influence us to feel like we should be thinking about slipping away, and winding things down. I wanted to take this opportunity because how rare is that for a producer to offer somebody my age and to be able to do this?
DVM: There is definitely a lot of emphasis on the youth of today. Is that a struggle for you, or are you like, “No, I’m here to prove that wrong?”
CHRISTIE: I’m not really here to prove it wrong: I’m here to try and be the best Roxie I can be. Being in a play is such an extraordinary thing. As a model, you work alone a lot. I mean, you work as a team, but when you get out there in front of the camera, it’s you alone. When you get out there on stage, you’re interacting with everybody around you, and I love all of that. It’s so great. To be able to be out there active, doing things, learning new things. I really think that being curious about the world, taking on challenges, and constantly growing and learning, that’s the fountain of youth. That’s much more potent than anything you can get in a jar…including Christie Brinkley Beauty. Ha!
For tickets, visit www.venetian.com
Feature Photo by Andrew Eccles