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September 12, 2018 10:19 am

Israeli Singer Shiri Maimon ‘Excited’ Ahead of Broadway Debut in ‘Chicago’

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Shiri Maimon. Photo: The Algemeiner.

Israeli pop star Shiri Maimon is both excited and nervous about her Broadway debut in the record-breaking hit musical “Chicago” and representing the Jewish state on stage, she told The Algemeiner on Friday.

Maimon, 37, will take on the lead role of Roxie Hart in the Tony Award-winning show — which is Broadway’s longest-running American musical — from Sept. 21 through Oct. 5. Hart is the wife of a mechanic and a nightclub dancer thirsty for fame. She murders her on-the-side lover and, desperate to avoid conviction, uses her crime to draw media attention and create a series of sensational headlines with the help of her slick criminal lawyer.

This is the first time an Israeli will join the cast of Broadway’s “Chicago.”

“It’s a dream come true,” Maimon said about joining the show’s cast. “It’s a great honor for me, to be a part of it. To be a piece of history — to be the first Israeli actress female playing Roxie, that’s a great honor.”

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She added, “I’m really excited about it, I’m nervous [and] I’m happy. I’m [just] trying to have fun.”

Maimon, who represented Israel in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, was offered the opportunity to join “Chicago” after a member of “Chicago” co-producer Barry Weissler’s team visited Israel on vacation and saw Maimon perform “Evita” at a production in Tel Aviv. She was then invited to audition in New York for the role of Roxie Hart. She told The Algemeiner about the audition process, “[It] was nerve wrecking because you know, I  really wanted it to happen; I really wanted to be good at it so I was working very hard.”

Maimon — who will be a judge on the singing competition “HaKokhav HaBa,” the show that will select the Israeli entry for Eurovision 2019 — has been preparing for her role as Roxie Hart for two months starting in Israel, as she juggled her other work commitments. She talked about learning the “amazing” choreography and dance routines in the show, and getting rid of her Israeli accent to learn the show’s script and tap into her American character. She said she was “a bit scared” working in English, but explained that she had a dialect coach help her pronounce certain words the same way an American, like Roxie Hart, would.

In describing Roxie Hart, Maimon said, “She’s a funny character. I like her because she just wants to be acknowledged. She wants a meaningful life. She doesn’t want to just be a mechanic’s wife, she’s more than that. So she’s trying to fulfill her dream and the minute she saw that opportunity — even though she murdered someone — but she became a star because of that. She was like ‘Ok, I’m a star, Let’s do it.'”

Maimon moved to New York two weeks ago with her husband and two children, and will stay until the end of her run with “Chicago.” She told The Algemeiner she was trying not to feel intimidated about joining such an iconic show as “Chicago,” and that she was just trying “to be myself, to be my Roxie [and to] just have fun” with it all.

She does, however, feel that she is representing Israel with her new role. She said, “When I’m on stage, I’m Shiri and I’m just fulfilling my dream. I’m there on stage singing, acting and dancing, and that’s amazing. Probably — before and after — you know after when I come meet the audience, who will ask me questions about Israel and you know even talk to me in Hebrew, [then I’ll feel] I’m for sure an ambassador for Israel and it’s an honor for me.”

“Chicago” will go on tour and come to Israel for one week in March, Maimon told The Algemeiner. She will continue to play the lead role of Roxie Hart and said the production will be a “copy and paste” of the American Broadway show, with no changes to it. It will also be performed in English.

As for a future in Broadway after “Chicago,” Maimon is not ruling out the possibility. She said, “Why not? If an opportunity will come, I’m open.”

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