Razzle dazzle: Pamela Anderson returns to Chicago Broadway

IIf you interviewed an audience at New York’s Ambassador Theater on Saturday night, there’s a good chance many were there to see one person: Pamela Anderson, a 90s icon who had a moment this spring. The Playboy cover model who became the baby of Baywatch became the tabloid food not only on Broadway but also debuted on stage last month as Roxie Hart, the cunning killer in Bob Fosse’s burlesque play in Chicago, in eight weeks in a 25-year strong revival show.

The casting served as a tacit replica of Anderson’s re-marriage to Motley Crue idiot Tommy Lee, and a sex tape that was released without their permission, brought to the Hulu show Pam & Tommy. The eight-part limited series, released in March, stars Lily James as Anderson (with prosthetic breasts) and Sebastian Stan as Lee and reimagines stealing their sex tape as a history of gonzo pop culture, along with an animatronic penis and a fashionable feminist revision of Anderson’s Public Shame.

Anderson did not participate in the series, nor did she support her portrayal of what appeared to be a traumatic violation of her privacy. There was a lot of media about the annoying (in my opinion) lack of consent on the show and our common interest in redeeming ashamed women; sources expressed her displeasure, but Anderson said nothing. Instead, she returned to the spotlight for work, bending the bow of the redemption narrative in her own way. (Ticket sales jumped 9% during her first week.)

Pamela Anderson.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

Chicago has a long history of casting, and with good reason. The role of Roxie Hart – a woman who shoots her lover and tries to take advantage of her famous criminal status – can accept such Broadway intruders as Ashlee Simpson, Brooke Shields and Erika Jayne from True Housewives because it is basically an misunderstood aspiration. The external context of celebrities only contributes to that. So much of Anderson’s greenness – she’s open to learning to sing and dance for the job – can be folded into the role of Roxie, a celebrity hungry for anyone dreaming of vaudeville fame. Anderson may not show much talent for singing (her voice is feathery and soft, sometimes hard to hear even in an orchestra) or dancing (good enough), but she has what she needs: frivolous self-awareness and excellent understanding winking at camp.

With her gleaming side-cracked crack and exaggerated sneer — her face took on the most hyperbolic vaudeville cups like a wax puddy, and I mean it in a good way — Anderson seemed to be acting silly and making fun of his own image at the same time. Words like “I’m older than I ever intended to be” elicited laughter, while “I can still pretend to be my own” cheers. The huge wink she gave as she sang “What if the world slandered my name?” it could probably be seen from Times Square. (The audience, including me, laughed.)

It helps that Broadway veteran Lana Gordon bears the burden of singing the series as a star who has become the killer of Velma Kelly (and seems to enjoy sharing the spotlight with Anderson.) to simply make an effort. She may be new to Broadway, but here she works in a familiar area – fluttering eyelids, ruby ​​red lips, a bra that emphasizes the contrast between her most famous property and her tiny waist. Her Roxie Hart is a seductress, but one who puts herself on the show with a conscious view of the challenges of reputation and scandal, the balance of self-exploitation and potential opportunities. “The story and my life are so parallel,” she told Vogue in March while rehearsing. “I always say … 30 years of therapy or just one show on Broadway, then I’ll be fine.”

Since the release of Pam & Tommy, Anderson has promised to tell the “true story” of her life in upcoming memoirs and an authorized Netflix documentary. Until then, perhaps the best way to bring down what Vulture critic Kathryn VanArendonk called “the limits of the conspiracy to redeem women” is not to talk about it, but to just have a good time. In Chicago, Anderson seems to be doing it in front of an audience cheering for her – and so we had fun.

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