When the national tour of the 1996 Broadway revival of "Chicago" returns to the Bank of America Theatre Tuesday, Feb. 25, there will be a lot of familiar faces in the cast.
"Seinfeld" star John O'Hurley previously toured to Chicago as the slick lawyer Billy Flynn, as has award-winning Mexican actress Bianca Marroquin as the fame-seeking killer Roxie Hart. Also making a return is Ron Orbach, who previously played Roxie's schlub husband Amos on tour and on Broadway as far back as 1997. In fact, Orbach won a Jeff Award for his "Chicago" performance.
"Chicago"Location: Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, (800) 755-2000, broadwayinchicago.com
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Feb. 25-28; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 2
"It is always a great pleasure and privilege to return to 'Chicago' and to Amos Hart," Orbach said. "It is a job I have greatly valued also because there are members of the company, both in the cast and in the crew, that I have worked with on and off for 17 years. These folks are like family to me."
Audiences might recall Orbach's previous local turns in Goodman Theatre shows like "Moonlight and Magnolias" and "Turn of the Century," or at Chicago Shakespeare Theater where he played Bottom in a 2012 production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
But there's also a painful Chicago memory for Orbach tied to the pre-Broadway tryout of "The Producers" in 2000. Orbach was originally cast as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, but was replaced by his understudy, Brad Oscar, when he blew out his knee during technical rehearsals.
"It was indeed a huge blow to my career, and I did struggle and suffer over it for quite a while thereafter, as I had to witness the unparalleled success it had," Orbach said.
But after living in New York during the 2001 terrorist attacks of 9/11, Orbach said that the national tragedy put his life and career in perspective.
"Shortly thereafter, I got married, and returned to Broadway in 'Dance of the Vampires.' OK, so I went from the biggest hit in Broadway history to one of its biggest flops, but I was still back on Broadway."
"Chicago" is now the longest-running American show in Broadway history, and Orbach attributes the popularity in large part to its continued relevance -- and its celebrity casting.
"Andy Warhol's assertion that everybody wants their '15 minutes of fame' has reached its zenith now, with reality TV and our addiction to the tabloids and celebrity culture," Orbach said. "But it is once again a testament to the greatness of the show that it can withstand all kinds of infusions of a wide variety of performers."
Orbach added that he was impressed to star in "Chicago" alongside celebrities like Huey Lewis, Melba Moore, George Hamilton and "Dukes of Hazzard" stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider.
And Orbach is especially looking forward to the Chicago audience's response to "Chicago," which he says is remarkably more welcoming and boisterous than in some of the "boonies" he's toured to with the show.
"I'm not sure if they take some proprietary pleasure in the show due to the title," Orbach said. "But maybe that is the case."