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MEXICAN STAR BIANCA MARROQUIN
will rock San Francisco with Roxie 

An Exclusive Interview by Iride Aparicio

Bianca Marroquin

SAN FRANCISCO, CA— After securing the rights to a few Broadway shows in 1999,  OCESA,   Mexico's  “Cartelera de Espectàculos” (A production group) decided to introduce in Mexico the American Musical Theatre. After all their books and lyrics were translated to Spanish, the auditions for local talent began.

BIANCA MARROQUIN, a young student  majoring in communications at the Technology University in Monterey, Mexico, auditioned as a dancer. Since she could also sing,  she was selected to play a part in the ensemble of  Disneys’ "Beauty and the Beast." After that, she acted minor roles in "Rent" and in "The Phantom of the Opera". By 2001,however, BIANCA was acting a lead role and the media was calling her “A Star.” The role she was playing was “Roxie Hart” in the  Mexican production of  CHICAGO.  

Her ingenious interpretation of the satirical role and her way of dancing,  caught the eyes of the Broadway producers of the show. She was invited to reprise the role on Broadway with GEORGE HAMILTON playing the role of Billy Flynt, the Lawyer. BIANCA MARROQUIN  made her Broadway debut at the Shubert theatre on June 18, 2002 becoming the first Mexican woman, ever, to play a lead role in Broadway.  

As one the “Special engagements for 2014”. dancer, singer and star of radio and television  BIANCA MARROQUIN, will reprise her Roxie in San Francisco in the upcoming  SHN  production of CHICAGO, a  tale of fame and fortune and  all that jazz. In a phone interview CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL talked with the star.

Ryan Worsing, Bianca Marroquin and Michael Cusumano in Chicago

C.W.B.  What is Theatre for you?

BIANCA: “Theatre is a profession that I could not change for anything. For me, the stage is “Sacred” and I was lucky I set foot on the stage since I was very little. I believe that the “Stage Bug” stung me one day and since then, I developed a great respect and an eternal love for the theatre."

C.W.B. How did your career start?

B.M: “I started my career as a dancer, and while learning to dance, I acquired respect for the arts, learned discipline, and refined my desire to become better every day. I was born in  Nuevo León Monterey (Mexico), but when I was one year old my parents moved to Matamoros, which is in the border of Brownsville, Texas. At the age of three, my mother enrolled me in a ballet school in Texas and one day the academy prepared a “Recital” for the students and invited their  parents and their families. It was during that Recital that I discovered how wonderful it was to have an audience. I  loved the way my family reacted to my dancing, the flowers I received, and the adulation of the audience. I knew then, that acting in a theatre was what I wanted to do with my life."

C.W.B  When did you first get acquainted with music?

B.M.: “There was a lot of music at home, so I had always heard and liked music. As a kid I began singing, not taking singing lessons, but just singing. There was a piano in my house, so I spent hours playing the piano by ear, even composing music. Also, as a child, if I heard a song, I was able to play it. God had blessed me with a good ear."

C.W.B When did you start acting?

B.M. "After I graduated from High School in Texas, (which gave me the privilege to learn both English and Spanish) I was planning to go to Spain to study Flamenco dancing, but my father said “no, you are going to the Tecnológico in Monterey (a technical University) like your brothers and study a career in Communication first.” I was on my fifth semester, when I heard that Mexico, was bringing Broadway plays to El Distrito Federal, and that the Broadway producers were in Mexico trying to find their talent. I went to the audition of  Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in Monterey, and was selected as one of the dancers. So, I told my parents that I was going to go to Mexico City for a year and a half  and that when my contract was over I was returning to complete my studies. I was in the dancing ensemble, playing the part of one of the spoons, but I was very happy.”.  

Bianca Marroquin as Roxie in ChicagoC.W.B: How did you get the lead in CHICAGO? 

B.M: “All the dancers had to sing and I did not have the voice or the vocal technique required to be a singer, but I had enough voice to carry a tune. so, when casting CHICAGO, the producers discovered that my  voice was good for the music, because it was jazz, and that my singing style was appropriate for the character of Roxie Hart,  so I got the part.”
 
While playing CHICAGO in Mexico, her portrayal of Roxie  landed BIANCA an invitation from the producers to perform the role for three weeks, at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. She tells us that she continued playing the role in Mexico, singing the songs in Spanish at night, and during the day, rehearsing her dialogue and lyrics in English for her Debut on Broadway.

“When I got there, I rehearsed for four days,” she says, “and then I did my cross-over and  I was incorporated in the Broadway ensemble where I debut on June 18, of 2002”

C.W.B. How did you feel?

B.M.: “As Mexican, I felt that my playing a lead role on Broadway was an important part in the history of México. Only two Mexican actors before had played lead roles on Broadway: MANOLO FABREGAS , who played “the king” in "The King and I" (l963) and CLAUDIO BROOK  who played “Don Quijote” in "The Man of La Mancha" (l969),  but they were men. I am the first Mexican woman. I also felt a great responsibility, because this was not my triumph. It was a triumph for Mexico and for all the Hispanics. And because I believe that triumphs are to be shared to motivate other people, I felt that maybe, I was opening the Broadway’s doors to Hispanic actors and actresses who have the same dream that I once had.”

C.W.B. What can you tell us about CHICAGO ?

B.M. “ In my opinion, what makes CHICAGO what it is, (the winner of 6 Tony Awards ®, 2 Olivier Awards ® and a Grammy ®) is its book, (written by Librettist FRED EBB and choreographer BOB FOSSE, based on the l926 play by MAURINE DALLAS WATKINS) that is “genial.” That is the reason why the work is still shown after eighteen years, because its production, is “minimalista.” (uses little props) CHICAGO  does not have lavish scenography, or fancy costumes and we (the actors) share the stage with the musicians because  the orchestra, framed by a golden frame, plays on the stage. But the work succeeds not only because of the music and dancing, but mainly because of its  book."

C.W.B. As the player of the book's characters, how do you bring Roxie to life?
 
B.M. “I have a tremendous respect for the role of Roxie because It covers life’s emotions in two hours and twenty-five minutes, so, for me to be able to play her, I need to spend my whole day concentrating on that night’s performance. It includes everything: My training, what I eat on that day, and what I do on that day, because I need to have in me the energy that I need to represent the role which is very demanding emotionally and physically.  The choreography is very aerobic, so I have to maintain my body in shape. I also need to prepare my vocal chords, and my overall physical health to be able to give Roxie “life” on the stage. I love the character and during all these years I have had the chance to get to know her, yet I continue exploring her,  The work has been on the stage for eighteen years, and I had been doing the role for twelve of them. So every time that I leave CHICAGO  to do something else on TV, or recording music, or just another show in Mexico or on Broadway,  and come back, to CHICAGO, I notice  that my Roxie is different. because I have grown up as a woman and Roxie had grown up with me. Also, as an actress, I always try to give my Roxie “human” qualities so that people could identify with her, because "her fight", that may seem egotistical because she longs to be famous and wants her picture to be shown on all the magazine covers, may not be egotistical. If we observe her, we understand that at the end, her “fight” is the "fight" of any human being,  who has a dream.”
 
We end our interview asking BIANCA,the first-ever NATIONAL AMBASSADOR  of  VIVA BROADWAY, (the new audience development recently created by the the Broadway league, in partnership with the Hispanic Community, with the purpose to bridge the world of Broadway with the Latino audiences around the country) how she feels about receiving that new honor.  

B. M. |I feel good because I began doing this all by myself in Twitter, and on Facebook a long time ago to make Hispanics aware that there was a Broadway. I was alone in this enterprise until one morning when I was invited to have lunch by a group from VIVA BROADWAY and they asked me if I could be their Ambassador."

C.W.B.  As an Ambassador, what will be your duties?

B.M." To make the Hispanic community aware of what is happening in Broadway. The shows that are being presented, the stars playing in those shows, I could also participate in symposiums  and talk about these shows or write about them in my social network. Through VivaBroadway.com. Anybody will now be able to learn what is happening in Broadway.”

CHICAGO, will play at the Orpheun Theatre in S.F.  from November 7 to November 16. to order tickets call 888-746-1799 or  order them online at shnsf.com.