Two nations, one performer: Marroquin’s groundbreaking journey from Mexico to ‘Chicago’

Ryan Worsing, Bianca Marroquin and Michael Cusumano showcase their vaudeville skills in Broadway's "Chicago," in San Francisco through Nov. 16th. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

Ryan Worsing, Bianca Marroquin and Michael Cusumano showcase their vaudeville skills in Broadway’s “Chicago,” in San Francisco through Nov. 16th. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

It did not take Bianca Marroquin very long to find her passion in life, her true calling.

Actually, it only took her about three years. That is, the first three years of her life.

Marroquin was only three when she walked into a ballet studio for the first time. And while many three-year-olds may be learning how to put words together to make complete sentences, Marroquin embarked on a journey as a little girl that has led her from the United States/Mexico border to the bright lights of Broadway.

“I am one of those very lucky people because I knew what I wanted to do from a very young age,” said Marroquin. “When I walked into ballet class and found my bar, I realized I loved the responsibility.

“It took a lot of blood and sweat and different things to reach your goals at that age. The harder the work, the more it hurt, the better it was for me. Along the years, I missed out on family and social events, quinceañeras, and I was never up late on a Friday because my Saturday ballet rehearsal came first. My whole life has been about that.”

Bianca Marroquin

Bianca Marroquin

The building blocks of early discipline set the stage for Marroquin’s illustrious career that has led her throughout the world as a consummate triple threat, talents that bring her through San Francisco in a signature musical theatre role. “Chicago” makes a stop at the Orpheum Theatre beginning Friday, Nov. 7th for a short, 10-day run. The story of two murderesses that become stars on the vaudeville scene in 1920’s Chicago sets the scene for the musical, a signature piece for songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, with writing and choreography credits also going to Broadway icon Bob Fosse. This touring production stars Marroquin as Roxie Hart, Terra C. MacLeod as Velma Kelly and John O’Hurley (Seinfeld, Dancing with the Stars) as sleazy celebrity attorney Billy Flynn.

The show had a solid run in the original production on Broadway in 1975 starring Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon, running for 936 performances. Some 21 years later in 1996, the revival returned to the Great White Way, and has been playing ever since, aiming to take over “Cats” as the second longest Broadway run in history this November. It also firmly holds the record for the longest running revival in Broadway history. The movie version, released in 2002, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere, cleaned up nicely at the Academy awards, which included an Oscar for best picture.

“Chicago” and its examination of the cynicism of celebrity culture is a perfect metaphor for the times, and continues to resonate with audiences around the world.

Marroquin has a hand in the history of “Chicago” as well. Not only has she become one of the youngest females to play Roxie Hart in the stage production, she is also the first Mexican citizen to land a leading role on Broadway.

Even though she did not come from parents that had a performing arts background, her family did a lot to give her the soundtrack to her life.

“My father is a doctor, but I was very musical as a kid, and we were very exposed to music,” said Marroquin. “We listened to people and groups like Rocio Durcal, Trio Los Panchos, Jose Jose and The Beatles. I was always needing to have a soundtrack.”

Marroquin has played in the Mexican casts of many Broadway blockbusters, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Rent” and “The Sound of Music,” and most recently played the role of spunky hair stylist Daniela in “In the Heights” on Broadway.

In addition to her extensive Broadway career, Marroquin is a prominent solo artist, currently promoting her latest album “El Mundo Era Mio” (The World Was Mine). She has also spent lots of time on Mexican television in shows such as “Mira Quien Baila” (Look Who’s Dancing), serving as a judge for the four seasons the show ran on Univision.

It does not take long to catch a wave of Marroquin’s infectious energy, one that flies at you in conversation. Her schedule is precise – interviews, master classes, makeup and another night as Roxie Hart fills her days on the road.

In the midst of her whirlwind existence, it’s easy for Marroquin to forget what kind of impact she has had, a Mexican woman flourishing in a medium that does not boast Latinos in large numbers.

“I work, work, work, and now and then I speak to someone like you and then you’ll remind me,” said Marroquin. “You never know or realize the impact of your work when you’re working. I am catching flights, going from one hotel to the other, showing up to work, being disciplined, and that’s all I am focused on. But every once in a while there is a reminder of what I am doing and it’s a beautiful feeling.”

Marroquin has experienced the best of what duality has to offer. She was born and raised in the Mexican town of Matamoros, which borders Brownsville, Texas. Crossing the border to her dance class in the United States was a daily ritual, and the lessons she learned in both cultures have served her well in her career.

“When the time came to do ‘Chicago’ in Spanish and then in English, I was performing the show for two different cultures,” said Marroquin. “I found that audiences would laugh in Spanish at one part, and different audiences would laugh in English at other parts, so I would always have to adjust the comic timing.

“I am so privileged to be able to do the same show in both languages. It’s such a cool path to have, and I am grateful of the tool God gave me.”

BIANCA MARROQUIN ONLINE:

www.biancamarroquin.com
Twitter: @biancamarroquin
Facebook: Official page

WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO

SHNSF presents “Chicago”
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
The Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market Street (at 8th) San Francisco, CA 94102.
Aug. 15th – Sept. 28th
Tickets range from $40 to $210
Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
Online: www.chicagothemusical.com
For tickets, call (888) 746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com.

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