In the final episode of the first season of
Friends, Ross has to go to China, and Joey tells him to go to China
and eat Chinese food. Chandler then quips, “’Course in China, they just call
it food.” That kind of sums up how I feel about Chicago stunt-casting. It’s just “casting” now because
it’s the norm, not the exception. (Of course, that doesn’t stop me from
commenting on it.)
But, amazingly, the latest
Chicago casting news is actually pretty good. At least
it’s not really bad, and that’s about as much as I can ask. Former
Sopranos stars Aida Turturro and Vincent Pastore will
be taking over the roles of Matron “Mama” Morton and Amos Hart in
the Broadway production beginning November 13.
From a strict Broadway perspective,
the casting is a little flawed. Aida Turturro has some stage chops —
in 1992, she performed on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire
— but she’s never had a singing/dancing role. And Vincent Pastore has
not been on stage since his early community theater days.
But from a character perspective,
this makes more sense. Janice Soprano as Mama Morton works.
Her character was manipulative
and self-interested — think how she weaseled her way into Bobby’s life
— but she was occasionally sympathetic. (When Richie hit her, you understood
why she shot him.) I’m optimistic that she’ll have a compelling stage
It’s not too difficult to imagine
her in the big “Mama” Morton number, “When You’re Good to Mama.”
And then there’s Sal “Big Pussy”
“Big Pussy” was not as
much of a pushover as Amos Hart. (He did kill people on a regular basis.)
But he was similarly family-oriented, which proved to be his downfall.
I’m sure about his stage presence. (I’m pretty sure he’s no Joel Grey.) But, if he can sing, he could be
Of course, I cannot help but
quickly cast the rest of the major roles.
I’m seeing Silvio as Billy Flynn.
I don’t know that he’s really
smart enough — and he’d be a little wooden — but the suits do it for
I think Meadow would make the best Velma.
She’s got the cunning and the
drive. (But she may not have the world-weary humor.) I think Jamie-Lynn
Sigler may actually have played Roxie — which seems wrong to me
— but Meadow as Velma is OK.
And, finally, I’d go with Adriana as Roxie.
I think she’s got the right
mix of smart and stupid for the role. (But if I were casting Drea
de Matteo rather than Adriana, I’d probably make her Velma.)
That’s my take on it, anyway.
Would you cast it differently?