by Gabrielle McClinton
Part of Our "Giving Notice" Series
After eighteen months, Tuesday July 10 was my last performance of Chicago, the longest running American musical on Broadway. While it was a thrilling experience, I knew my time with the show had come to an end.
Chicago is a well-oiled machine that has run for twenty-two years. It was my first performing experience where I felt I could truly relax. I felt lucky to ride it for as long as I did. During Chicago, I grew as an artist in leaps and bounds. However, I decided to leave because as an artist, I crave change and new experiences. I was fortunate enough to be cast as a principal in a new show and that made my decision feel right.
I have been fortunate to play leading and ensemble roles on Broadway and while I’ll miss Chicago, I’m excited about my continued journey as an actress. There is always something about a new show that keeps my creative juices flowing. New projects are the lifeblood of our profession. While being on an eight show a week schedule, I felt I had given it my all and it was time to devote my time and energy to new projects. As they say, as soon as you close a chapter, another one opens. I’m ready to put energy into new opportunities, explore different roles, and create just to create.
What I’ll miss most about Chicago are the people. The cast is truly exceptional, and they always kept me focused and laughing. What is so great about a show that’s been running for twenty-two years is that there’s not a lot of drama. Most people live outside of the city. They have families, so they come to work to do their job and go home. In certain respects, I like that, because it makes the atmosphere relaxed. There is not a lot of pressure, so you feel at liberty to explore things on stage that in a newer show may be more risky.
Chicago is timeless and there is nothing like it on Broadway. It tells a complex story with complex individuals, but it is simply done. I’ll miss that simplicity. Also, I love that the show centers on two strong, complex female leads. They carry the show and we need more of that.
What’s incredible about being in this ensemble is that you are an integral part of the story. Each ensemble member has a name and each role is centrally featured. I think it’s important to remember that the ensemble lifts the principals up and they are the show’s foundation.
I will always cherish my time as a member of Chicago’s ensemble, but as an artist, I need to keep challenging myself. That is why I love what I do. The time was right to move on, but I will never forget my time with the cast, crew and wonderful audiences during my time with Chicago.