As glitzy as it may seem, the life of a showgirl can be murder -- literally. Take Roxie Hart, the devil of a bombshell at the center of John Kander and Fred Ebb's sexy, 1920s-era Broadway sensation Chicago. She kills a man for her career. But fortunately, gorgeous redhead Michelle DeJean didn't have to resort to manslaughter to score the role of Roxie in the touring show, which Theatre Under the Stars is presenting this week at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
"I'm having a wonderful time," says DeJean, a native Houstonian. "I feel very lucky to be on stage with the people I'm with right now because they're really, really good." The cast includes Tom Wopat (also known as Luke from TV's Dukes of Hazzard); he plays Billy Flynn, the scoundrel lawyer representing Velma Kelley, another aspiring performer who, like Roxie, has offed a man.
Velma and Roxie meet up in the clink. Roxie too hires Billy Flynn, who brings publicity to her case. At first, the two ladies spurn each other, competing for media attention. But later they decide to combine forces and end up onstage partners.
DeJean attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After graduating, she moved to New York, then started touring. "I went on the road and never left," she says. "I just kept going from show to show for about ten years." Her touring finally took her back to New York, where she joined Chicago's Broadway company and understudied Roxie. This year, she finally got her chance at the starring role, and soon after she was offered the lead in the touring company.
The actress is excited about performing in her hometown. "It's a dream come true," she says. "All my teachers and my friends and my family, and my grandfather who's 96 years old. He's never been able to see me perform. He'll get to see me for the first time." We're guessing he'll enjoy her killer performance.