Move over, ladies; there’s a new Mama in town! As previously announced, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes began her run as Matron “Mama” Morton in the hit Broadway musical Chicago November 23rd. Following behind the incomparable Natasha Yvette Williams (who is a member of the ensemble for The Wiz Live! and serves as the understudy for Queen Latifah‘s The Wiz), Leakes has some shoes to fill and some high notes to hit.
This isn’t the first time NeNe Leakes has appeared on the Broadway stage. Last year, Leakes made her Broadway debut in Cinderella alongside Keke Palmer, the first Black actress in the title role. The role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton is usually meant for a supreme belter, although Wendy Williams has also played the character. I have no doubt Leakes has the acting chops to be the authoritative, bossy persona Morton needs to be believable on stage.
I must admit that when I first heard the news, I let out a sigh. I’m all for a woman making BOSS moves to advance her career. However, as a person who has spent her entire life immersed in theatre, I always feel a sort of bias. People go to school for years, go through years of training in acting, dance, and singing to dream of the moment they can step foot on a Broadway stage. Yet more and more, the theatre is becoming commercialized, focusing more on big names than actual talent.
This is not to take anything away from Leakes, who I’m sure is putting in the work it takes. I just am having trouble with this trend of caring more about star quality than actual talent. After all, isn’t New York the city of dreams? Why not give someone else a chance? Maybe after Leakes’ run we’ll be treated to an unknown in the role. In the meantime, I’m excited to see what NeNe has to bring to the table.
For 4 weeks only, from Nov 23rd – Dec 20th, make your way over to the Ambassador Theatre to catch the woman who is “very rich” in action. Tickets are available HERE.