As I've said before, I'm all for stunt casting when it keeps a worthy show running longer. So I'm totally cool with pop star Usher becoming a box-office boon for the decade-old revival of Chicago. It's a terrific show, one that didn't realize its true potential in its initial Broadway run. Chicago is now among the top-four grossing shows in New York.
Now producers Fran and Barry Weissler are hoping to recreate that renewed success for the London run of Chicago. They recently confirmed that Ashlee Simpson will soon join that production.
OK, all I know about Ashlee Simpson is that she's Jessica's sister, and that she got caught lip-syncing on "Saturday Night Live." I've never heard her sing or seen her perform. I also have no idea whether her supposed celebrity translates across the pond. But I do know that it will be kind of embarrassing for her if she isn't quite the same draw that Usher has proved to be.
Because stunt casting doesn't always work. I have strong doubts, for instance, that Constantine Maroulis will reverse the flagging fortunes of Broadway's The Wedding Singer, currently playing to half-empty houses. I get the feeling that show is not long for the Al Hirshfeld (formerly the Martin Beck).
P.S. The Producers is also playing to 50% or so capacity. Geez, remember all that talk five years ago that The Producers would become the most financially successful show in Broadway history? The Phantom says, not quite. It looks like the St. James might be available for a new tenant sometime soon. Unless, of course, they bring in 50 Cent to play Max Bialystock.