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  • Megan Kudla

A Rivalry for Screen...and Now Stage: Death Becomes Her Hits Broadway

Glinda and Elphaba aren’t the only two female characters stealing attention this year with a tug-of-war, rollercoaster relationship of intense unadulterated loathing. Remember the Madeline Ashton and Helen Sharp of the 1992 comedy hit “Death Becomes Her”? This time, they are back and belting on Broadway in Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre stage—and soon to be headed to New York.

Megan Hilty and Jennifer Simard in Death Becomes Her on Broadway in Chicago.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman, 2024. (l to r): Megan Hilty (Madeline Ashton), Jennifer Simard (Helen Sharp).

The new comedy musical adaptation of “Death Becomes Her” opens glamorously, rousing the audience as soon as a tantalizing and mysterious woman, Viola Van Horn (Grammy® Award Winner, Michelle Williams) graces the stage. Glittering under a brilliant violet glow, she opens the curtains to a lavish palace of glamor and youth. Eventually, both envy-driven Ashton and Sharp (Tony® Award Nominees, Megan Hilty and Jennifer Simard, respectively), in their outrageous battle to outdo one another in beauty and success, are lured here to drink a magic potion that will change their lives forever. And I mean, forever.

 

From a splashy entrance with the song “For The Gaze,” to the ominous “I Warned You,” the energy does not fade. By Act II, there is a drunk plastic surgeon stuck in a deadly love triangle (honorable mention to Christopher Sieber’s Ernest Menville…damn it), and the two women who were once the worst of enemies are now commonly seduced by a consequence-ridden hope to ward off age and irrelevance in a world of ridiculous excess and self-indulgence.


Christpher Sieber in Death Becomes Her on Broadway in Chicago.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman, 2024. Christopher Sieber (Ernest Menville).

The quick pacing was a perfect assist to Hilty and Simard’s tag-team comedic slam dunking. Their boldness, and perhaps even more vitally, their timing, brought these preposterous characters to great heights. As they wear ostentatious ball gowns and wield deadly weapons, it’s impossible not to shake your head and laugh at the absurdity of it all—impossible not to love these undeserving characters. Similarly, Williams’ Van Horn orchestrates a mischievous world of beautiful danger that is easy to be dazzled by.

 

With a smashing cast of vocally verdant leading women, as well as an ensemble that could command the space with a look even before a leap or lunge, this show was crafted to sparkle and shine before gobbling the audience up and licking its lips with delight. Immortality so luscious it’s intoxicating, and rivalry so extreme it kills… Who knew death could be so funny?

 

“Death Becomes Her” is playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre for only 5 weeks, now until June 2, 2024. Tickets begin at $30, and you can find more information on broadwayinchicago.com. To learn more about this hilariously smashing show, visit deathbecomesher.com.



Cover photo: Michelle Williams (Viola Van Horn, center), and the ensemble of Death Becomes Her. Photo credit to Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman, 2024.

 

 

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