Fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills know Erika Jayne (who goes by her married name, Erika Girardi, on the show), but the star hasn’t earned her fame solely from reality TV. She’s also a singer and actress who has appeared in a number of television and theater productions and has earned multiple number ones on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. This January, Jayne expanded her repertoire and realized a lifelong dream by making her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago.
Though Jayne has lived in Los Angeles since the mid-1990s, the singer once resided in New York City, making her journey to the big stage that much more rewarding. We caught up with Jayne to discuss her experience on Broadway, what she brings to the role of Roxie Hart and what she loves about NYC.
Playing Roxie Hart in Chicago is quite the Broadway debut. How does it feel?
Erika Jayne: It’s a lot. The thing about a show like Chicago is everybody loves it, and everybody knows Roxie Hart. You just have to get out there, do your best and bring your own personal Roxie. That’s what I do eight shows a week.
What attracted you to the role?
EJ: Oh my God, she’s the ultimate femme fatale. She’s raw, she’s devilish, she’s in the moment, she’s unpredictable. She doesn’t back down, and she is a survivor. That’s what people love about Roxie. I mean, she shot and killed a guy but she’s not a criminal. She has a justification for everything.
What have you enjoyed most about playing Roxie?
EJ: The most interesting part is being able to do it so many times. Every night I feel like I understand the music more, the lyrics and the choreography more and what the play is really about. You get to polish the diamond every night, and every night means something different.
How do you get ready? Any pre-show routines?
EJ: Just getting into costume and makeup helps. When I get in the chair and my makeup artist starts to paint, the character really comes to life. Here comes the wig and here comes the costume. The theater’s alive with people vocalizing and warming up and you can hear all of that. It’s a cool thing—there’s no other way to say it.
You’ve done theater before, but this is huge.
EJ: This is the ultimate. Every performer’s dream is to come to Broadway, especially to lead a show and play someone like Roxie. You can’t get any more fun.
How have your fans supported your performances?
EJ: First off, the Erika Jayne fans that come to see the show are not only loud and laughing but they’re having a good time. They are buying drinks at the bar; they are the best audience ever. I love meeting them at the stage door after the show. There was this one guy who had a custom shirt that read “Roxie Security,” and at the end in the courtroom, when I shoot Fred Casely [in a flashback] for the third time, he said, “Shoot him again!” You can’t make this up. The Erika Jayne fans make everyone in the cast so happy. So thank you to all the Erika Jayne “Pretty Mess” fans that came out and represented hard.
You used to live in New York. What do you love about the City?
EJ: I’ve traveled to New York a lot since I left [in the mid ’90s]. While things have changed, there’s no city like it. The energy is just 24 hours a day, and that is special. You can’t feel this energy and meet these people in Los Angeles. LA is my home but it’s just different.
What are some things you would recommend to a visitor?
EJ: I need some recommendations, are you crazy?! I would recommend this great musical called Chicago. The only place I’ve really gotten to explore is Hudson Yards. I’ve been there quite a bit; it’s new and it’s cool. Go see the Vessel and walk around. There’s so much to look at.
I’m just happy to be in NYC. It’s an honor to be on Broadway. Every day I make sure to walk through Times Square and look at the billboards. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, and here it is.
Erika Jayne stars in Chicago, at Manhattan’s Ambassador Theatre, through March 29, 2020. Buy tickets at nycgo.com.