Lead role in touring Chicago is Mexican actress's latest coup
Jan. 20, 2005


By Kathleen Allen

Bianca Marroquin doesn't feel much pressure having the lead of good-girl-gone-bad Roxie in "Chicago," which Broadway in Tucson/A Nederlander Presentation brings to the Old Pueblo next week.
She isn't bothered by dancing and singing through eight shows a week, traveling to a new city every week or two, and being subjected to fresh reviews with each new opening.
Ah, but being the first woman to cross over from the Mexican stage directly to Broadway - now that is pressure.
The distinction, along with a fast-rising career that started less than five years ago, has made her a bit of a celebrity in her home country.
"I hear from people in Mexico constantly," she said, speaking from San Jose, Calif., where "Chicago" is making a two-week stop.
"That's why I think I have to be careful with the steps I take. I hope they keep being proud of me, and I hope I keep being a good figure for them. And I hope more will cross over and fulfill their dreams."
It all started innocently enough for Marroquin.
She loved dance all her life and wanted to study flamenco in Spain when she graduated from high school. But her father insisted on college first, so she left her hometown of Matamoros and went to school in Monterrey.
There was no arts department at the school, so she sought out dance whenever and wherever she could.
When auditions opened for a Mexican tour of "Beauty and the Beast," Marroquin thought, " 'Why not?' "
"It was during my fifth semester of school, and someone convinced me to go," she recalled, speaking perfect, accent-free English.
"I made it to the ensemble. I told my parents I would just do it for a year and a half." She's from a close-knit, Catholic family. Her parents weren't going to turn her over to just anyone.
"They came to Mexico City to meet with the producer before they let me go."
"Beauty and the Beast" led to a role in "Rent." And that led to one in "The Phantom of the Opera," where she snagged the laborious job of dance captain. And that led to an eight-month gig in "Vagina Monologues."
"I didn't know how to break it to my parents because I couldn't say the word," she said with a laugh about that role. "We went to Monterrey with it, then Matamoros. I had left to do 'Beauty and the Beast' and came back to talk about my vagina."
She appeared in the production with some of Mexico's best-known actresses. Her parents took it in stride.
Then she heard about a Mexico tour of "Chicago."
"I was auditioning for the ensemble," she recalled. "I only went to the auditions for the principals just so they could keep seeing my face. I thought I would never get away with the part."
Even though Marroquin was in her early-20s and too young for the lead of the 30-something Roxie, something about the red-headed, long-legged and talented actress captured the imaginations of the producers.
They cast her as the murderous Roxie.
Smart move. She started winning awards in Mexico for her portrayal. Word spread, and she acquired a following and fame.
Then one day a little more than two years ago, the phone rang.
"My producer called me in on a Saturday between shows, and he said, 'New York wants you to come in and fill in a three-week space in the play. What do you think? Here's the script in English.' I remained very calm. I studied the English script during the day and did it in Spanish at night."
Her short-term Broadway gig in the Tony-winning musical won her more fans, another run with the role on Broadway and the offer to do the U.S. national tour, which in turn won her even more fans. She's been performing with "Chicago" for a little more than three years now, and on the road with it in this country for more than a year.
Her parents are resigned to her acting career. In fact, they love the fame and happiness it has brought her.
Marroquin loves it, too. And she wants more.
"I love acting, singing, dancing, comedy, drama," she said, adding that movies and cutting a record are in her future plans, too.
"I'll follow my destiny, my intuition," she explained. "I'll listen to my heart and let it flow."
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at 573-4128 or kallen@azstarnet.com.