NEW YORK -- Billy Ray Cyrus is the latest entry through the revolving door of celebrity casting in the long-running revival of Chicago, making his Broadway debut in the role of silver-tongued criminal lawyer Billy Flynn.
The singer-songwriter and actor will play a limited seven-week engagement in the production at the Ambassador Theatre, appearing Nov. 5 through Dec. 23.
A slick spin doctor who exploits his clients' celebrity to aid their cases and line his own pockets, Billy's big numbers in the show are "Razzle Dazzle" and "All I Care About is Love," the latter surrounded by an adoring chorus of fan-dancers. The role was played in the Oscar-winning 2002 movie by Richard Gere.
Now in its 16th year, making it the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, Chicago was written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Ebb. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1975.
Opened in 1996, the current production won six Tony Awards, including musical revival and direction of a musical for Walter Bobbie.
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Lead producers Barry & Fran Weissler have goosed the revival with celebrity replacement casting throughout its run, providing a regular shot in the arm of new box office adrenaline.
Previous Billy Flynns have included Usher, Huey Lewis, Wayne Brady, Taye Diggs, Louis Gossett Jr., George Hamilton, Harry Hamlin, Billy Zane, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Springer, Joey Lawrence and former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson.
Among those who have stepped into the shoes of merry murderess Roxie Hart are Melanie Griffith, Ashlee Simpson, Christie Brinkley, Lisa Rinna, Rita Wilson, Robin Givens, Melora Hardin, Gretchen Moll, Marilu Henner and Brooke Shields, while prison warden Matron "Mama" Morton has been played by Sofia Vergara, Chandra Wilson, Jennifer Holliday, Angie Stone and Aida Turturro.