Drag Queen sensation Divina de Campo, known for her phenomenal voice, is starring in Chicago currently touring theatres across the UK.
The smash-hit musical set in the ‘jazz hot’ 20s tells the story of criminals Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. When they both acquire the same lawyer, the lustful Billy Flynn, tensions become high as they fight for the spotlight.
Divina is playing Mary Sunshine, the newspaper reporter who follows the trial of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. Originally played by Christine Baranski in the film, Divina said the role in the stage show is very different. “Christine is an icon, I’d definitely put Christine and I on the same level,” laughed Divina.
“Seriously though, without giving anything away, she is a really sweet person who sees the good in everyone but is hiding her own secret.”
Despite being an experienced performer, this is the first time Divina has taken on a role in a touring musical.
“I’ve done lots of independent things that were a lot more arty but this is my first large scale commercial production,” Divina told me. “Musical theatre was what I wanted to do, I’d grown up as a little chorister singing in the choir at church and doing all the solos at school. Then I got into am-dram and it’s really lovely as a few of my friends from my am-dram days have come to the show which has been really nice.”
Inspired by musicals throughout childhood, although Divina had never seen Chicago on stage, she was very familiar with the film. “Chicago is one of those shows where you just know all of the songs even if you’ve never seen the show. You know All That Jazz, you know Roxy, it is just kind of one of those shows where you just know the music,” said Divina.
“I knew the film version but the stage version is very different. It is much funnier, it is much sexier and my character is almost completely different to the film version.”
Everyone knows Chicago for its slick choreography and iconic songs, but Divina emphasised how the story is still so relevant to our lives right now. “Chicago is set in the 20s and if you look historically, they have been through a very similar series of events to us. Economic crash, pandemic, work and job insecurity, a swing to the right in politics and then you get the roaring 20s where everybody goes a bit wild and that is kind of what we are seeing now,” she explains.
“Right now after two years people want to watch something uplifting. I need something that’s fun and going to make me laugh, that’s sexy and a bit tongue and cheek. But this show isn’t just funny, there’s also a nod and a wink as it makes fun of society and the way society operates.
“It is actually a really interesting piece, it feels very surface when you watch it, it feels like just one layer. But actually when you look at it a bit more carefully it is like an onion, there are more and more layers.”
Joining Divina in this production are Darren Day, Sinitta, Faye Brookes, Djalenga Scott and Joel Montague. Divina can’t praise the cast enough for their talent in this show. “This cast is hungry, they are all so committed to what they’re doing on stage. They are fantastic, everything is so sharp, the dancing is so clean,” she said.
“The ensemble, I just gush about them because every single one of them brings their own energy that they somehow manage to melt together to create this amazing ensemble.”
Divina loves to admire the beauty of the show during rehearsals. Asking her what her favourite moments in the show are, she told me: “I love All That Jazz, when we do run throughs I always sit and watch it because the dancing is just so fantastic.
“Razzle Dazzle is another one, there is so much going on choreographically and it is so carefully done that you can see everything but every time you watch it there is something else you notice.
“Then the other bit that I absolutely love is the opener to act 2, Djalenga sings a song that then cuts straight into another song with Faye who is shadowed by two boys and it’s just fantastic.”
Despite her busy touring schedule, Divina still has time to catch up on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “I am so interested in the process, I couldn’t choose a favourite because we are in the middle of a pandemic. These people have all managed to scrape together these amazing outfits – the pressure must have been unbelievable,” she said.
“Just as we were being locked down, it’s not like they could have seen a dress designer or gone to the shops, they had to do everything online. I am genuinely really proud of what they’ve managed and what they’re doing. I think they’ve had some amazing conversations and are doing themselves proud.”
Chicago opens at Wolverhampton Grand on Monday 25th of November before continuing on tour across the UK.