Erika Jayne

Erika JayneThe name on everybody’s lips is gonna be … Erika Jayne.

She has already conquered reality television as one of the stars of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, dominated the US Billboard Dance Club Chart with her nine #1 songs and the New York Times bestseller list with her memoir Pretty Mess, and taken the beauty and fashion industries by storm through her collaborations with ShoeDazzle and TooFaced Cosmetics. Now Erika is kicking off the next decade with another checkmark on her bucket list: headlining a Broadway show.

Next month, Erika will make her Broadway debut as the iconic Roxie Hart in Chicago, the #1 longest-running American musical in Broadway history. With a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, and timeless music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, this production of Chicago has been playing the Great White Way since opening in 1996. And in 2002, the film adaptation of the show took home the Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Yet Erika is not intimidated by the creative challenge of starring in such a culturally revered musical. She’s also no stranger to adapting the personas of different characters in her work. In fact, Erika Jayne herself is already the sultry popstar alter-ego of Erika Girardi. For the triple threat, channeling her Erika Jayne personality while on stage and in the recording studio offers an enhanced form of artistic expression that allows her to separate this part of herself from her private life as Erika Girardi.

So why is Roxie Hart the perfect character for Erika to transform into for her Broadway debut? “There’s a little bit of Roxie Hart in everybody, just like I always say there’s a little bit of Erika Jayne in everyone,” she told me when I interviewed her at NYC’s Lambs Club. “What an incredibly fun role and what a great musical! You couldn’t have any more fun than playing Roxie Hart.” 

“Roxie is raw, she’s passionate, she makes bad choices, she’s a survivor, and she’s charming all at the same time,” Erika gushed. As an actress discovering her unique twist on the beloved role, “I think you just have to dig down deep. Inside all of us are all of those qualities I just described. Bringing those out and letting people see that makes me really enjoy being in that space.”

Though she’s a seasoned performer, taking on the lead role in a Broadway musical with eight performances a week is certainly no small undertaking. “We’re in rehearsal every day,” Erika noted of her dedicated preparation process, which also includes mastering the show’s legendary choreography before her first curtain call on January 6. “The thing about Fosse is that—yes, while it’s still very sexy—there’s a dolled up elegance about each move. That’s something I’m finding to be the most beautiful!” 

ChicagoWhen it comes to her own love affair with Broadway, Erika explained that the first show she ever saw was Cats. “I just kept thinking about how much I wanted the costumes!” she laughed. So what does she hope audiences take away with them now that she’s the one they’re coming to see? “I want them to say, ‘That was great, I loved it, and I had a really fun time.’ But most of all, I want people to fall back in love with this amazing musical as I have.” 

Erika is not the first Real Housewife whose name has lit up the Chicago marquee. In addition to recent star turns by NeNe Leakes and Kandi Burruss as Mama Morton, Erika’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast-mate Lisa Rinna took center stage as Roxie in 2007. 

“Lisa Rinna said to me, ‘Erika, you need to absorb every moment of this experience. It’s going to be the best time of your life and make sure that you take it all in,’” Erika recalled as the best advice that her friend gave her. “She also said, ‘Enjoy every moment that you have because something like this just doesn’t come around very much!’”

Luckily, fans who are not able to catch Erika on Broadway during her 12-week limited engagement in Chicago will get a sneak peek at her transformation into everyone’s favorite murdering vaudevillian when season 10 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premieres on Bravo in early 2020. “Fans of the show will get to see me in a little bit of rehearsal and doing some vocals. They will see me talk about it an awful lot, so that’ll be great!” Erika teased.

Now that Erika’s face is plastered across posters all over New York City, will she plan to continue pursuing Broadway and musical theater after her run as Roxie wraps up on March 29? “Let’s get through this first and then we’ll put our eye on another prize,” she chuckled. 

Though Erika’s illustrious career has already had many highlights, her Broadway debut promises to show off a new side of the performer that her fans haven’t yet seen. “Please come to Chicago and have a good time!” she exclaimed. “And have several drinks!”

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to see Erika Jayne starring as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City from January 6 – March 29, 2020.

Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.