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19th April 2022

Chicago just got three degrees hotter: Sheila Ferguson joins the cast

The Three Degrees’ Sheila Ferguson will be stepping into the role of Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago at Manchester Opera House
Chicago just got three degrees hotter: Sheila Ferguson joins the cast
Photo: Matt Crockett.

David Ian in association with Barry and Fran Weissler are delighted to announce that Sheila Ferguson will star as Matron “Mama” Morton in the acclaimed UK and Ireland tour of the international smash hit musical Chicago, when it arrives in Manchester.

Sheila Ferguson is best-known as the former lead singer of chart-topping group The Three Degrees, who will be playing at The Bowdon Rooms in Cheshire later this year, celebrating their 50th anniversary. Since leaving the band, Ferguson has had an incredible stage career, starring in the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie, Soul Train, Oh! What A Night, and Respect La Diva and many pantomime seasons! She has also appeared on television as a contestant on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! and as a panelist on Loose Women.

Ferguson has been attached to Chicago for months. Whilst she was not originally scheduled to star in the tour when it hits Manchester, it was recently announced that she’ll be coming here for one last hurrah!

Sheila Ferguson
Photo: Matt Crockett.

Fellow singer Sinitta, who played the iconic role last year, is set to rejoin the tour for a few of the remaining dates. Meanwhile, reality star Gemma Collins – best-known for The Only Way is Essex – is set to play the role in most of the certain cities.

Chicago has long been known for its star (or maybe even stunt) casting. Aside from Velma, the other three main roles are often played by celebrities. Pamela Anderson is set to make her Broadway debut this month when she plays Roxie in the musical. Yet, Collins’ casting has attracted controversy and criticism. Safe to say, theatre-goers are in safe hands with soul sensation Sheila Ferguson!

Ferguson joins Faye Brookes (Coronation Street, Dancing On Ice) as ‘Roxie Hart’, Djalenga Scott as ‘Velma Kelly’, Jamie Baughan (Roman Mysteries) as ‘Amos Hart’, and B.E. Wong as ‘Mary Sunshine’.

Sadly, Russell Watson – tenor turned reality TV star (I’m A Celeb) – departs Chicago just two days before it arrives in Manchester. Watson is playing Billy Flynn at set dates, the role played by Darren Day earlier on in the tour. It has not yet been announced who’ll be playing the role in Manchester and Belfast, but the remainder of the tour will star Lee Mead (Any Dream Will Do, Casualty, Holby City).

Divina De Campo (RuPaul’s Drag Race) is also no longer part of the tour. She played Mary Sunshine last year. It would have been great to see Manchester’s own Campo rock it on the Opera House stage, but all is not lost, for she’s starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at HOME later this month!

Photo: Chicago.

Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, itself based on true stories, and “set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.”

Created by John Kander, Fred Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, Chicago‘s sexy, sassy score includes the show-stopping songs ‘Razzle Dazzle’, ‘Cell Block Tango’, and, of course, ‘All That Jazz’.  Winner of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy, Chicago is the longest running American musical in both Broadway and West End history. 

Since it opened, Chicago has played in 36 countries worldwide and has been performed in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Danish, Japanese and Korean.  Worldwide, it has been seen by an estimated 33 million people, grossed over $1.7 billion and played over 32,500 performances.

So, why not make a trip to Chicago this spring? With Sheila Ferguson in the cast, it’s going to be at least Three Degrees hotter than Manchester!

Chicago is touring the UK until July. Russell Watson leaves the tour just before it arrives to Manchester Opera House (23rd to 28th May) – which will be Sheila Ferguson’s final stop. Gemma Collins takes over the role on the 31st, seeing the tour through Sunderland, Cardiff, Blackpool, Sheffield, Norwich and Oxford – the last stop of the tour. Sinitta, meanwhile, is playing the role in Belfast and Plymouth (June) and Llandudno (July). If you’re keen to see a certain performer, be sure to check the casting beforehand so to avoid disappointment (granted, for some, the cast reveal might, itself, lead to disappointment).

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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