Go inside this Broadway legend's dressing room as she prepares for one of the most iconic roles in musical theatre... Roxie Hart.
Charlotte d'Amboise is a legend. She is a child of the arts and a product of the world she grew up in.
I happened to see the show after our shoot and she is in every sense a star. The journey she creates as Roxie is muscular, impulsive, and daring. This show is so locked in her body since she's been performing Roxie on and off since 1997. To me, it was her opening night. She lived truthfully, moment to moment, and presently - just as she did with me in her dressing room.
I walk up the stairs to the second floor where Velma and Roxie's solo dressing rooms are. The light in the stairways are dim - resembling the feeling that it's raining outside. It was cozy and warm. Two leggy women await me at the top. It's Lana Gordon (Velma) and Charlotte d"Amboise (Roxie).
"Oh, you're a baby," says Charlotte.
"How old are you?" asks Lana. "Just turned 26 a few days ago," I reply.
"Hold on to that youth," says Lana.
A very Velma reply. I'm obsessed already.
I go into Charlotte's dressing room. It's spacious - perfect for physical warm up.
"Ok," Charlotte says, "what do you want me to do?"
"Just do your thing. If you need me to leave at anytime, remember - I'm out."
She begins with her make up.
"How do you physically prepare for Roxie," I ask.
"During the day I do yoga or Pilates. I vocalize at home... oh I also take Advil now. I didn't use to have to do that."
It hits me I'm watching Charlotte d'Amboise prepare for one of her most popular roles. She revisits Roxie once every year, having first played her on tour in D.C.
"Tell me who Roxie is to you," I ask.
"She thinks on her feet and is not initially evil or conniving. She just thinks in the moment to serve herself."
I'm telling you - when I saw Charlotte play the role later that night - no wonder she revisits Roxie every year. It's like she's home. Roxie lives in her bones and controls that stage like no other. I never knew Roxie was on my list of dream roles, but after seeing Charlotte portray her... she is now!
"What sort of rituals do you do as an actor? Anything weird?"
"I touch my fingers," she says. "Is that weird?"
"I mean... is it?" I ask. "I used to have this rock with me that I would touch to feel grounded. I would also touch my cell phone a few times...?"
She thought for a moment.
"Hmm... well... I also go through Roxie's monologue before the show starts. Just to remind myself. I also watch All That Jazz from off stage left to get me in the world of the show," she said.
She began her physical warm up. This is when we casually chatted about theatre and family - less so about her actually process. Sometimes the warm up of an actor is merely just coming into the space, getting into the right mindset, and doing their job.
Something important to Charlotte was her open door policy. Different cast members like David Bushman and Donna Marie Asbury came in to say hello. Press representative Heath Schwartz was hanging with us, so conversation was plentiful.
"And now," she exhales, "I call my family to make sure everyone is alive and healthy. If you're not aware, her husband is another Broadway legend: Terrence Mann.
She gets off the phone.
"Rachel Bay Jones daughter and my kid are together. They're trying to figure out which scary movie to watch."
And with that, the show was about to begin and I made my way to the house to watch the show. It was electric to watch Charlotte, a legend, prepare - but also even more thrilling to see her in action.
After Charlotte's physical warm up, she moved on to brushing her teeth and then onto costume. Once her costume was on, wig supervision placed her wig and microphone on Charlotte.
"Wait," she said pointing to her left, "come over to this side. It's my better side!"
She tells me this now - just as the shoot is ending!