Christie Brinkley Has Hart on Broadway
By Alexa Ray Joel
photographs by kate orne
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Dress, D&G ($1,345). 434 W. Broadway, NYC; dolceandgabbana.com. Earrings ($9,500) and color sapphire bracelet ($30,300), Bulgari. London Jewelers, 2 Main St., East Hampton; londonjewelers.com. Hammered-gold bangles, Me & Ro ($6,000, set of 3). meandrojewelry.com. Bezet bangles with diamonds in rose and yellow gold ($2,875 each) and metro bangles with diamonds in rose and yellow gold ($6,300 each), Tiffany & Co. 53 Main St., East Hampton; tiffany.com. Bangle with garnet stones, Irene Neuwirth ($6,000). Hirshleifer’s, Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; hirshleifers.com. Rings, Pomellato ($2,535 each). London Jewelers, SEE ABOVE. Haute couture sandal, Christian Dior ($1,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd.; dior.com
ALEXA RAY JOEL: So, Mamacita, you’ve made a lot of bold moves throughout your career, but I have to say starring in Chicago on Broadway has to be your most courageous move yet. What made you decide to take on the role of Roxie Hart, and how did you get up the courage to do it?
CHRISTIE BRINKLEY: It’s not every day that one has an opportunity so rife with possibility, excitement and adventure. It awakened me to the realization that this is something I had always dreamed of doing but never had the time, or perhaps even the courage, to pursue. And I didn’t know if I had “the goods,” but I would rather go down in flames than spend the rest of my time wondering, What if? So, with a reckless abandonment and a hot pair of Louboutins, I marched into my audition, ready to have some fun. And believe me, after four or five really tough years, I really was ready to have some fun.
ARJ: I hear you! I know you’ve been having a blast, but there’s also a lot of hard work involved. Give me a brief glimpse into the rigorous preparation required for taking on the massive role of Chicago’s bombshell lead.
CB: First of all, the script for Chicago—written by the brilliant Fred Ebb and the legendary Bob Fosse—is so well done that just reading it gave me a very real understanding of who Roxie Hart was. But then I was also very lucky that this production has been put together by some of the biggest names on Broadway. I got to meet and work with Walter Bobbie, the revival’s original director, and he gave me wonderful emotional direction and some very helpful technical direction. For example, he suggested that I handwrite all my lines in order to open up other neural passageways toward memorizing Roxie’s lines. Also, the show surrounded me with a team of highly knowledgeable and patient professionals such as my conductor Leslie Stifelman, who worked with me on vocals. I’m also lucky enough to get squeezed in, once a week, for lessons with Broadway’s most in-demand vocal coach, Joan Lader, who is helping me find ways to keep singing even through this season’s record-breaking, history-making, highest pollen count ever!
ARJ: And she keeps you singing with constant poise and charm, might I add. I used to have to correct you on your pitch when we would harmonize together from time to time, but I’ve noticed your pitch is right on the money now. Remind me to make an appointment with her for my own vocal training.
CB: You don’t really need it. Your dad always said you
have perfect pitch, remember? But thanks, honey, I’m
glad you’ve noted my improvement.
ARJ: Well hey, I have to be good at something since you’re good at just about everything these days. One of the many things you’ve got a leg up on is dancing (no pun intended).
CB: I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, but I sure am having fun trying. Three weeks before coming to New York City, I got to work with a wonderful dancer named Steven Sofia for private lessons in my home—three hours a day, three days a week. Once I actually got to New York, my rehearsal schedule intensified to six days a week, from nine or 10 in the morning to six at night. I worked with Chicago’s dance supervisor, Gary Chryst, who, coincidentally, played one of the guys on the motorcycle in your dad’s music video for “Uptown Girl.”
ARJ: I love that! You can’t top the dance moves in that video; I actually find myself going on YouTube to re-watch it pretty often. The dancing is pretty great in it—and you’re not so bad yourself!
CB: Well, thanks, honey; that definitely takes me back. And yes, Gary’s a wonderful dancer; he taught me so much. But the biggest boost to my growing confidence in assuming the role of Roxie was when the great Ann Reinking herself—who, as I’m sure you already know, choreographed this production [in the style of Bob Fosse], as well as starred in the role of Roxie—spent two full days with the cast and crew at rehearsal. And she told me that I made her laugh and cry.
ARJ: And, let me guess, knowing you as I do, then you cried.
CB: Don’t I always?
ARJ: Boy, talk about the icing on the cake [noticing a gorgeous slice of cake sitting on a table in the living room]. Mom, what gives?
CB: Very clever... Chicago just celebrated its 6,000th performance, and they had a giant cake to commemorate this momentous occasion. I was sprawled out over a giant design reading 6,000 on the cake. They gave me a slice to bring back for the kids, but nobody wanted to eat it.
ARJ: That’s because it looks much too pretty to eat.
CB: It’s like my new paperweight now.