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MSNBC Reveals: Ashlee Simpson Heads to CHICAGO in December

A few days ago, multiple celebrity gossip news sources were abuzz with the news that Ashlee Simpson is in talks to join the Broadway company of CHICAGO as Roxie Hart, reprising the role which she played in London a few years back. A report from MSNBC last night reveals that the star and recent Melrose Place alum will be headed to the Great White Way in December.

Her former Melrose Place co-star Thomas Calabro writes on his Twitter as well "FYI - no bad blood AT ALL between AS and rest of cast! AS is heading to NY to star in Chicago on Broadway and we are all happy for her!"

Simpson, who played the part of Roxie Hart in London for five weeks in 2006, recently told OK Magazine "It's a lot of hard work and it's a great, fantastic show and I would love to do it again."Born in Waco, Texas, Simpson-Wentz became the youngest person ever admitted to the prestigious American School of Ballet in New York City when she won that honor at the age of 11. After moving to Los Angeles with her family a few years later, Simpson-Wentz began her career in television appearing on "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Saved by the Bell." She further honed her acting chops when she landed a recurring role for two years on "7th Heaven."

In 2004, "The Ashlee Simpson Show" debuted on MTV and went on to become the number 1 show in its primetime slot. Shadowing her life as she recorded her debut album, the show helped catapult Simpson-Wentz into musical stardom. Her debut album "Autobiography," was released in July 2004 and debuted at number 1 on the Billboard album charts, selling over 398,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release. It went on to sell more than four million copies worldwide. In January 2005, her number 1 hit single from the album, "Pieces of Me," was certified platinum.

Her sophomore album, "I Am Me," was her second consecutive album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard charts, went on to sell 3 million copies worldwide and yielded the hit singles "Boyfriend" and "L.O.V.E." Simpson-Wentz, who later released her critically acclaimed third album, "Bittersweet World," has also headlined two sold-out national tours.

In 2006, she made her film debut as a supporting actress alongside Kip Pardue and Carrie Fisher in the ensemble film "Undiscovered," about a group of Los Angeles actors and musicians struggling to make it big. Later that year, she took on the lead role of Roxie Hart in London's West End production of "Chicago," to critical acclaim.

Simpson-Wentz currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, musician Pete Wentz, and son Bronx Mowgli Wentz.

On Saturday, November 14, 2009, the internationally acclaimed revival of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse's Tony Award-winning, smash-hit musical CHICAGO will celebrate its 13th anniversary on The Great White Way.

Two months later, on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, CHICAGO will reach yet another major milestone when it becomes the sixth-longest running production in Broadway history, surpassing Beauty and the Beast with a total of 5,462 performances!

"It is such an unbelievable thrill to mark these two amazing milestones," said CHICAGO producer Barry Weissler. "With each passing year, I am constantly amazed by the overwhelming love that audiences have for our show, and it's remarkable to see that loved expressed performance after performance, all over the world. In the past 13 years, we've played in 24 countries and in 11 different langauges for more than 18 million people. It's truly extraordinary."

The revival of CHICAGO began its journey to becoming an international, billion-dollar stage success in the summer of 1996. After its celebrated rediscovery at City Center Encores!, the production opened to rave reviews on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on November 14, 1996, with a phenomenal cast headlined by Ann Reinking as Roxie Hart, Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth as Velma Kelly, Tony Award winner James Naughton as Billy Flynn and Joey Grey as Amos Hart.

CHICAGO then transferred to the Shubert Theatre on February 11, 1997. Nearly six years later, on January 29, 2003, it transferred a second time to its current Broadway home, the Ambassador Theatre (219 W. 49th St.).

The Broadway production now stars British stage sensation Bonnie Langford as Roxie Hart, Deidre Goodwin as Velma Kelly, Brent Barrett as Billy Flynn and Raymond Bokhour as Amos Hart.

In addition to Broadway, CHICAGO is currently enjoying a successful tour throughout North America, with upcoming engagements set for Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Cleveland, Los Angeles and many more.

Produced by Barry and Fran Weissler, CHICAGO has become a worldwide theatrical phenomenon. The acclamied London production continues to hold the record as the longest-running American musical in West End history, and will celebrate 12 years there in December.

CHICAGO can also be seen on tour through the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as upcoming productions in Holland (opening November 15, 2009), Spain (opening November 26, 2009) and Korea (opening December 17, 2009).

International return engagements are slated for Japan in 2010 and Sweden in 2011.

Other previous international engagements include productions in Abu Dhabi, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Dubai, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and most recently, Thailand.

With a legendary book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, CHICAGO is the winner of six 1997 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Cast Recording.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago's slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today's tabloids.

Directed by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Tony Award winner Ann Reinking, CHICAGO features set design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony Award winner Ken Billington and sound design by Scott Lehrer.

Visit www.ChicagoTheMusical.com for more information, including details for CHICAGO's new "Lucky 13 Giveaway," an enter-to-win contest with prizes including boxed CD/DVD sets, show tickets, autographed posters and much more. In celebration of the 13th anniversary, this 13-day contest begins on Sunday, November 1.

CHICAGO plays on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre (219 W. 49th St.). The regular weekly performance schedule is as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 8 p.m.;
Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are available by calling Telecharge.com at 212-239-6200. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Ambassador Theatre Box Office.

Regular Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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