People of Jozi – Samantha Peo

By now you must have heard that the world’s sexiest musical, featuring a nightclub singer, a double-murderess, a smooth-talking lawyer and a cell block of sin is heading to Jozi – yup, it’s time for the international smash hit musical – Chicago!

Taking the lead in the Broadway and West End musical razzle dazzle is none other than Samantha Peo, who plays the role of the criminal murderess Velma Kelly! We caught up with Samantha to find out more…

Samantha, you have been singing, dancing and performing for 25 years now – how did you get in to all of this, and how old were you when you started?

I was introduced to movie musicals from a young age by my mom who used to play around at home with me and we would sing songs by Doris Day , and Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe and she would act out scenes for me and I truly loved those movie musicals. But I never imagined myself choosing this as a career, I was merely having fun with my mom. Obviously I went to dance classes and loved them, and then I attended the Performing Arts Workshop which was based on the Fame school, where we learnt all disciplines of the arts, and I was hooked.

Chicago is the must see musical of 2019 – tell us a bit about what we can expect from the show?

Chicago truly is one of those musicals that just creeps under your skin. It is just so brilliantly, conceived and written, with astonishing choreography by the incredible Bob Fosse and music by Kander and Ebb, whose style I love! There is a reason why it has been the longest running Broadway musical, and seems destined to continue for quite some time.

It is sexy, and classy and funny, with incredibly strong roles written for women. And is in fact probably even more relevant today than when it was first written.

Tell us a bit about what it takes to play the role of Velma in the musical – how do you make it your own?

I played Roxie Hart in the last two runs in SA, in 2005 and 2008. However this time I take on the challenging role of Velma Kelly. I am so honoured to have been given the chance to play both leading roles. How lucky am I?! And I have been fortunate enough, as we all are in this cast, to recreate these iconic roles by bringing ‘ourselves’ to them, as it really is not a cookie cutter musical but truly requires strong personalities.

What is the most challenging thing for you about being a theatre and stage performer – I think often from the outside it looks very glamourous, but it must have its toils too?

I think it is the fact that you do 8 shows a week, with one day off. It can be incredibly demanding mentally, physically and emotionally. And you don’t get to see your friends or family as much especially on special occasions. But also you have to try and be on top form at every show, no matter your health or whatever might be transpiring in your life.

What is the one character or role that you have yet to play – that would love to conquer?

I’ve always wanted to play Charity in Sweet Charity, of course with choreography by Bob Fosse, but I love all Kander and Ebb musicals too, Kiss of the Spider woman etc. But I think I have played all of my dream roles so far, from Anita in West Side Story to Polly in Crazy for you, from Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie to Sally Bowles in Cabaret and now from Roxie Hart to Velma Kelly. I really love the classic American dance musicals.

How do you keep fit in-between shows or show runs?

I’ve taken two weeks off since we returned from China, but am now once again eating as cleanly as possible, and keeping up with cardio and strengthening, toning and stretching exercises.

What is your favourite place to visit in the world, and why?

I loved India and would return to see more of it. I have really enjoyed New Zealand especially Wellington, and Shanghai was incredible. Miami was totally different and a gas, but home is always the best especially after travelling away.

Fast Facts with Samantha

My favourite cheat meal is…baked potato and sour cream.
My shoe size is…4.
My favourite movie of all time is…Ooh too many to mention, but The Green Mile is up there, as is Shawshank Redemption.
Song that I have on repeat in the car right now is…Bruno Mars’s Jukebox album….every song.
Favourite item of clothing right now is…The entire wardrobe I had to leave behind whilst we were touring!
Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry…chocolate.

Find out more about the musical Chicago, opening at Montecasino on the 20th of April right here… 

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