First Wives Club The Musical
The award-winning movie about divorce and revenge gets a new look on the Oriental Theatre stage
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ACTRESS Christine Sherrill already has made her mark in Chicago theater, over the years performing in several roles at several area venues, including the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard at Drury Lane Theatre. That performance earned her the 2013 Jeff Award for Actress in Principal Role.
The St. Charles native, now living in New York, is back to add another page in her Chicago theater history when she appears in the pre-Broadway world premiere of First Wives Club The Musical at the Oriental Theatre, running from February 17 through March 29. “It’s exciting; it’s intimidating,” says Sherrill, who majored in elementary education at Northern Illinois University while on a vocal scholarship and later received a master’s degree from St. Xavier in education before going on to teach elementary school. “I mean how do any of us hope to really fill the shoes of the iconic women who were in the movie?”
In the 1996 movie, Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton starred as three former college friends who had been shoved aside by their husbands and replaced by younger women. Incensed, they got together in an effort to get some revenge on the men who did them wrong.
At the Oriental Theatre, Sherrill will be cast as “Elise,” the role portrayed by Hawn, and Tony Award-winner Faith Prince will join her in the Bette Midler role as “Brenda,” while Carmen Cusack of Wicked takes on the Diane Keaton role as “Annie.” Written by five-time Emmy Award-winner Linda Bloodworth Thomason, known for TV’s Designing Women, the musical gives Prince the opportunity to return to Broadway later this year after previously establishing herself as a Broadway star in productions such as Guys and Dolls, Bells Are Ringing and A Catered Affair. “It’s great being my age now, coming into my own and being able to do a role like this [in First Wives Club], says the actress and singer whose résumé also includes a list of film and TV appearances. “It sort of utilizes all of my experiences. I relate to this character a lot, and there’s a lot I can bring to it. I think this piece will speak to a lot of women––and men––but particularly to women and a lot of first wives. I think it gives them power.”
Aside from the play’s message and the efforts of the actresses, director Simon Phillips and Bloodworth Thomason, an added appeal will be the special compilation of music. The production features new songs and previous hits by the legendary Motown team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, who together wrote a number of popular tunes, including “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Stop In The Name of Love,” “My World Is Empty Without You,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You.” After a period of separation, the trio came back together to pen a collection of songs for the Broadway-bound musical. “The exciting thing about collaborating with Holland-Dozier-Holland is that the audience knows they are going to get some of those fabulous hits––the Motown hits that they love,” Sherrill says. “There are also new ballads that Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote just for First Wives Club, as well as some rousing anthems. What a score for this musical!”
For Sherrill, First Wives Club represents a significant score in her career. After principal roles in other major plays, this musical finally will provide the opportunity for her first appearance on the Broadway stage. And she’s thrilled, she says, to be associated with First Wives Club when she reaches that milestone. “The book is incredible because I think you can see a bit of Linda Bloodworth Thomason in the characters,” she says. “[The women] still love men, and they love being alive, and they leave hopeful that they can find love again. I think Linda brings all of that––the heart, the feminism and the warmth.”
The stars of the pre-Broadway production of First Wives Club The Musical include (left to right) Faith Prince, Christine Sherrill and Carmen Cusack.
Among those associated with the musical are (left) producers Elizabeth Williams and Paul Lambert, and director Simon Phillips. During a media event at the Oriental Theatre, members of the cast sing one of Holland-Dozier-Holland's songs, "Reach Out I'll Be There."
Tickets for First Wives Club are on sale now. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph Street, 151 W. Randolph Street, 18 W. Monroe Street and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.