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Actor Spotlight: Lana Gordon of ‘Chicago’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Meet Lana Gordon, who stars as the sultry Velma in ‘Chicago’

In summer 2017, Lana Gordon returned to the role of Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre. Playing on Broadway for more than two decades, Chicago is the longest running American musical in the history of Broadway. Gordon made her Broadway debut in the original cast of the The Lion King and has played Velma on Broadway twice before. 

Lana Gordon stars as Velma in Chicago

Lana Gordon stars as Velma in Chicago

What is the joy of playing Velma? 
Lana Gordon:
It’s a dream come true. Actually, my first time visiting this role was in German. But I didn’t really get a chance to sink my teeth into Velma until I came to New York City. I knew she was a very powerful, prideful woman. But of course in German I’m always concentrating on the German. 

I always find new things about her. That’s the brilliance of Velma. She doesn’t give up, which is kind of my personality. I don’t give up. No matter what, I’ll find another way to get what I need. I love that she’ll say, 'That didn’t work, I’m going to find something else.' She’s very clever.

What was it like doing Chicago in German? 
The whole show was challenge, but especially the song, “When Velma Takes the Stand.” The words to the song are longer in German. So I had to fit a very long German word in a very short time. That was hard.

And there is Fosse’s choreography. 
It looks easy, but it’s not. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s just so simple and yet so hard.  You don’t need to do too much. When you are in a stance where you're turned in, I find it quite sexy. It feels like you are stating a purpose. 

When did you know you had to be a performer? 
I always wanted to dance. When I was nine years old, my mother said to me, ‘If you learn your timetables all the way up to twelve, you can get a cat.’ After, when we were sitting in the driveway, she said, ‘You did so well, you didn’t get quite there, but I’m going to give you dancing lessons instead.’ That was the start of everything. I cried and said, ‘Mommy, I always wanted to do this. Thank you so much.’ Then I started ballet at classes at Matchie Studio of Dance. For my recitals my mother would prepare my hair and she'd make my bouquet from the flowers in her garden. For me, dance is freedom, a chance to forget. It takes you on journey and frees my soul.

How do you relax? 
I take yoga throughout the week. I love Rima Rani Rabbath’s really great yoga class at Jivamukti Yoga. She fills my spirit with newness and I come to the show recharged and ready to go. I find that helps a lot.

Isn’t there a great story about when you were in The Lion King
Heather Headley had fallen and twisted her ankle. It was a Saturday matinée and both of the understudies were out. One was on vacation. One was sick. I used to go home to my apartment on 180th Street and sing "Shadowland." And I’d watch Heather because I have such admiration her and still to this day. So I went to the dance captain and said, 'I know all the lines.' That night I went on and became the talk of Broadway for about a month. 

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