Ariana Madix is perfectly prepared to star in 'Chicago' on Broadway

The Vanderpump Rules and Dancing With the Stars celeb is putting her own stamp on the savvy, straight-shooting Roxie Hart in the long-running musical.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Ariana Madix knows what it's like to be the sensational subject of tabloid headlines. She knows what it's like to push back against those who deceive and underestimate her, proving her own savvy in the process. Chicago's Roxie Hart knows that, too. But for the Vanderpump Rules star, stepping into the record-setting Broadway musical's lead role isn't about making a statement — it's about fulfilling a dream Madix has held for years.

Theatre was one of her college majors (alongside broadcast communications), and she moved to New York upon graduation to pursue a Broadway career. Though that didn't pan out back then, the restaurant gigs she held instead prepared her for the opportunity of a lifetime: jobs at restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump's eateries, which translated to her casting on Vanderpump Rules in 2013.

The sharp-witted, straight-shooting nature that made Madix a fan favorite on that reality show happens to translate perfectly to Roxie. A literal straight shooter, Roxie lands in prison for murdering her lying lover, and she must get the press, the jury, and a silver-tongued lawyer on her side to make it out alive.

Madix's Chicago run, from January 29 to March 24, also comes on the heels of her acclaimed season on Dancing With the Stars — which proved the ideal prep for Broadway. She's still the name on everybody's lips, and Madix spoke with New York Theatre Guide about preparing to take the New York stage.

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How does it feel to make your Broadway debut at this point in your career?

It feels really incredible to be doing this. Every personal move and career move has all led to this. This was always and forever what I wanted to do, so for it to be happening — it's really, really exciting.

Before joining the Broadway show, what was your first exposure to Chicago?

My high school show choir performed "Cell Block Tango" 20 years ago! I was a murderess; I don't remember which one, to be honest.

Then, of course, the movie's incredible. And as a theatre kid, listening to the Ann Reinking/Bebe Neuwirth soundtrack [from 1996, when the current Chicago revival opened] — that's always been a staple.

What made you want to do Chicago on Broadway specifically?

It's the longest-running show [currently] on Broadway for a reason. There's so many incredible female parts, and I love the story that is being told. And Roxie is just the coolest! To have the opportunity to play her is really, really amazing.

You're not the first reality star to do so — have you heard from any former Roxies, or have their performances inspired you?

I haven't heard from anyone, but if anyone has tips... my DMs are open, so let me know! I actually have only seen various clips of other people playing Roxie, and I am doing my best to just bring my own version of her to the stage.

What can audiences expect from your Roxie?

I bring Roxie a lot of fire, a lot of spunk. Her and I have a lot in common. We are both people that cannot be counted out.

In some ways, you'll see a bit of me that you've always known and you've always seen with Vanderpump — or even just Dancing. But then there's going to be a lot that no one has seen yet, which is going to be really exciting.

Speaking of Dancing With the Stars, did competing on that show just before this help you prepare to perform live on Broadway?

Dancing with the Stars was the perfect bootcamp to prepare for Broadway rehearsals and for all the live performances. There's a lot I learned in terms of my body and dancing — little things.

Then there's so much I learned in terms of just trusting in the preparation and then going out there and letting it all go and performing. Because we were doing that every week, it's gotten me back to a place where I'm going to be ready to be doing that night after night on Broadway.

Has that process been challenging for you?

The biggest challenge right now, in the beginning of rehearsals, is not getting too down on myself. I have a bad habit — maybe it's from Dancing with the Stars, where you have five days to learn something that you're going to perform on live television — when it's day three, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I don't have it yet." I have to stop doing that.

What Broadway show would you want to do next?

Some Like It Hot would be a really, really fun thing to be a part of. Sister Act. I've always wanted to do Sweet Charity. If I could tap, I would say 42nd Street, but tap is something that has always eluded me.

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This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.

Photo credit: Ariana Madix. (Photo by Kelly Puleio)

Originally published on