Q&A: Christie Brinkley
One of the world’s most famous faces will be making her Las Vegas debut his week, playing an iconic role in the longest running American musical in Broadway and West End history.
Supermodel Christie Brinkley will resume her portrayal of Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Venetian Theatre April 10-14, right before she steps back into the Broadway production on April 18 at the historic Ambassador Theatre in midtown Manhattan.
Brinkley’s unmistakable style and smile are familiar from her unparalleled 30-year-plus modeling career, and she’s currently a TV host and beauty, fitness and lifestyle industry mogul, but she previously performed in Chicago in New York, London and across the United States in a touring production beginning in 2010.
But as she told me recently during a conversation at the Venetian’s swanky cocktail bar the Dorsey, Las Vegas will be a very special experience.
What’s it been like to be in Las Vegas for your very first performance on the Strip?
I came downstairs yesterday and one of the columns here flashed over a picture of me and I was like, look at this! We stood there and waited for it to cycle around again so I could get a picture. And then we decided to go outside and see the grounds and we come around a corner and there I am on a billboard on the Strip. I got oddly emotional. It’s been a crazy path in my life that I somehow ended up there and I was sort of overwhelmed. This is so amazing.
It’s funny to hear you say that because Las Vegas is probably the only place that we haven’t seen you on a billboard.
But it’s a different thing for me. I’ve said it many times: Doing Chicago was the greatest challenge of my career. Sure, I’ve done pictures in freezing cold weather in Alaska and done pictures diving 30 feet under the sea at a shipwreck on the Rhone and things like that. But for this, I get to share a stage with these consummate professionals who are incredible. I get to sing with an orchestra. I get to have my boys around me dancing and every now and then I do the same moves as them and it’s so cool. I just love it.
What has been your most memorable Chicago moment so far?
One of my biggest kicks was on the national tour when we played the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, where I’m from. My dad was a writer and producer for television and we went to the Academy Awards when I was a child. I went to the ladies room and I got lost, and was helped back to my seat by Cary Grant. And we were sitting behind Audrey Hepburn and I just remember how I could barely take my eyes off her to even watch the show. So to come back to L.A. to take the stage in Chicago the musical at the Pantages Theatre, this really gorgeous theater with these iconic Hollywood sculptures all around the lobby, it’s been a great adventure.
Are you more excited to be in Las Vegas or just to be back onstage with this show?
It’s all so special. Let’s face it, a lot of women at my age become invisible. To be given this opportunity to come back, when I got my first offer to be in Chicago eight years ago, it’s so unexpected and beautiful. And it’s quite physical. I took a little time to respond and started hitting the gym to see how much stamina I had, and then felt confident enough to say, “Let’s go!”
You’ve done so much in your career but not a lot of singing. What’s your preparation like to resume this role and its vocal requirements?
Let’s put it this way: I sing all the time but I’ve always been the person that as I’m singing, people reach for the radio. The thing about this part is it was written for Gwen Verdon and she didn’t have the biggest range. But you have to have enough wind to hit the notes because you’re always dancing. There are really only a couple times where you have to go, okay, here we go, hit those notes. But I like to think of myself more as a Rex Harrison-Angela Lansbury type. I try to tell the story with the song more than wow you with some sort of Broadway vibrato.
There are quite a few female Vegas headliners these days. Do you think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship performing on the Strip?
I’ve never even considered anything like that. I have a friend who’s a big promoter in New York and he’s always saying to me, “Christie, you gotta do the cabaret act, you gotta do it, you’ve got so many great stories to tell!” Somewhere in the back of my mind I toy with that idea, a small room and intimate setting, maybe telling some stories, maybe have my boys there to throw in a little pizzazz here and there, do a couple steps.