Ms. Ryan made her debut performance with the Broadway company of Chicago in January 1999 in the role of Matron “Mama” Morton. Since then, she has returned to reprise the role in the Broadway company every single year. 2013 marks her 15th consecutive year with the show.
The longstanding record for the most performances played by a principal actress is currently shared by Charlotte d’Amboise (as Roxie Hart) and Marcia Lewis (as Matron “Mama” Morton), both of whom have logged a total of 223 weeks in the Broadway company.
On Monday, October 21, Roz Ryan will begin her 224th contracted week as Matron “Mama” Morton, setting a new all-time record.
“Throughout the past 15 years, this show and this role have been such a tremendous blessing, and such an incredible privilege,” says Roz Ryan. “I’ve had the thrill of celebrating many milestones and record-breakings with Chicago over the years, but this is an extra special one for me. I am beyond grateful to Barry and Fran Weissler, to Walter Bobbie, to Annie Reinking and to the countless cast members, crew members and musicians with whom I’ve shared these past 15 years. And it’s certainly not over, darlings — the best is yet to come!”
In addition to her upcoming record-breaking run in the Broadway company, Ms. Ryan has also starred as “Mama” Morton in several national tours of Chicago since 1997, as well as international engagements in Abu Dhabi and Portugal. Her other Broadway credits include Scandalous, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dreamgirls, One Mo’ Time, The Pajama Game and A Christmas Carol. Her national and international touring credits include Annie, South Pacific and Blues in the Night. On television, Ms. Ryan is best known for her role as Amelia Hetebrink in the long-running NBC comedy “Amen,” starring Sherman Hemsley. Her other television roles include Mae Palmer in “Barbershop” (Showtime) and Mrs. Dixon in “Good News” (UPN). She can currently be seen as Aunt Sylvia on “The Rickey Smiley Show” (now in it’s second season), airing Fridays at 9 p.m. on TV-One. Her many television credits as a voiceover artist include “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated,” “The Looney Tunes Show” (Warner Bros.), “Kick Buttowski: Suburban Dardevil” (Disney Channel) and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” (Cartoon Network). Her film credits include Went to Coney Island, Cotton Club, I Think I Love My Wife, The Invention of Lying and Waiting for Forever.
Chicago now stars Latina superstar Bianca Marroquin (Mary Poppins, "Mira Quien Baila") as Roxie Hart, South Africa native and celebrated international leading lady Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, Ryan Silverman (The Phantom of the Opera, Passion) as Billy Flynn, Paul C. Vogt (Hairspray, The Little Mermaid) as Amos Hart, Roz Ryan (Scandalous, Dreamgirls) as Matron "Mama" Morton and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine.
Produced by Barry & Fran Weissler, Chicago then opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on November 14, 1996. It transferred to the Shubert Theatre in February 1997, and played there through January 26, 2003. The revival reopened at its current home — the Ambassador Theatre — three days later on January 29, 2003.
With a legendary book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Chicago received six 1997 Tony Awards for Best Musical Revival, Best Direction of a Musical (Walter Bobbie), Best Choreography (Ann Reinking), Best Lighting Design (Ken Billington), Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Bebe Neuwirth) and Best Leading Actor in a Musical (James Naughton).
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.
The Chicago ensemble includes Donna Marie Asbury, Nicole Bridgewater, Jennifer Dunne, Anne Horak, David Kent, J. Loeffelholz, Nathan Madden, Sharon Moore, Brian O’Brien, Denny Paschall, Stephanie Pope, Angel Reda, Jason Patrick Sands, Brian Spitulnik, Tonya Wathen, Amos Wolff, Ryan Worsing and Adam Zotovich.
Chicago features set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony Award winner Ken Billington,
sound design by Scott Lehrer, musical supervision by Rob Fisher and musical direction by Leslie Stifelman.
A true New York City institution, Chicago has everything: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; countless show-stopping-songs from Kander and Ebb's legendary score; and the most astonishing dancing thanks to Bob Fosse's iconic choreography.