NEW YORK - Usher, the silky voiced R&B superstar, will soon be crooning a Broadway melody. The multi-platinum recording artist and five-time Grammy winner will take over the role of conniving lawyer Billy Flynn in the long-running musical revival "Chicago," making his Broadway debut, producers Barry and Fran Weissler announced Friday.
"I have always admired Broadway actors for their showmanship, dedication and focus that goes into performing live on stage every night," the 27-year-old Usher said in a statement. "Being on Broadway allows you to connect to audiences in a whole new way that's different from music and movies."
Usher's last album, "Confessions," sold more than 8 million copies in the United States and made its debut as number one on Billboard's 200 Albums chart. Among his hit songs are "Confessions," "Burn," "You Make Me Wanna" and "Yeah!"
Usher opens Aug. 22 in "Chicago" and will appear through Oct. 1.
The R&B performer, who was born Usher Raymond in Chattanooga, Tenn., and raised in Atlanta, was discovered when he was 13 at a "Star Search" competition and was given a recording contract. While "Chicago" will mark his Broadway debut, he has acted in TV shows and several films, including last year's "In the Mix."
"Chicago," Broadway's longest running musical revival, has a score by John Kander and Ebb and a book by Bob Fosse and Ebb. The tale of Roxie Hart, a has-been chorus cutie who murders her boyfriend and tries to ride the notoriety to show-biz fame and fortune, originally was seen on Broadway in 1975.
The Weissler-produced show, winner of six Tony Awards, opened in 1996 and has been seen around the world.
Barry Weissler has developed the replacement strategy for his long-running shows, including "Grease" and "Annie Get Your Gun," into a fine art. In "Chicago," its morally relaxed heroine has been played by such diverse actresses as Brooke Shields, Melanie Griffith, Sandy Duncan, Marilu Henner and Rita Wilson.
Among the actors who have played Billy Flynn on Broadway are Huey Lewis, Wayne Brady, Kevin Richardson, George Hamilton, Taye Diggs, Alan Thicke and Billy Zane.