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chicago movie posterBorn a Jersey girl, Dana Owens — better known by her royal moniker Queen Latifah — wasn’t far from the neon lights of old Broadway.

The multi-faceted rapper, singer, talk show host and actress (for television and film), got a taste of Broadway in her Golden Globe-nominated turn as Matron Mama Morton in the movie version of Chicago.

“I’ve always loved musicals,” admitted the actress who recalled seeing productions of Timbuktu! and The Wiz on The Great White Way. “Yeah, the bug bit me,” continued Latifah, also crediting influences to The Sound of Music, just watching television, all the stuff Bing Crosby would do, Danny Kaye and those guys. All that kinda stuff, it was fantasy for me. Growing up a kid in the projects, [musicals are] the escapism that you love. You get to go into this world. I don’t care what you do or where you live, these were fun shows to watch.”

Latifah joked about her hiring for Chicago at a recent press junket for the movie, which is directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall and written by Bill Condon. “I put a gun to the guy’s head and said ‘Give me the freakin’ role. [Laughs.] No. That would have been more exciting, huh?” She then seriously revealed, “[Miramax producer] Harvey [Weinstein] and those guys wanted me for the role, but I went in and earned it with Marshall. I auditioned three times, three times to get it: Went in, sang Mama the first time, showed them ‘I can sing this man, I can do it honest!’ And then worked on the dialogue the second time and then the third time I went up to the set and worked with Catherine Zeta-Jones on a scene and they gave me a job that day.”

While she did have fun, Latifah also admitted difficulties she had with lip-synching while filming her big number ‘When You’re Good to Mama.’ “It was crazy, I had to get my lips synched and it drove me crazy. I’m not even going to lie. Understandably, because they wanted it to really look like you sang it, because we did sing it. But then you have to nail it with the performance as well. But the dancers — who are all these Broadway people, really professional dancers — they were there and they were like ‘Good job.’ So, getting them coaching me on just boosted me up. I felt like if I got their approval and this is what they do, then I’m doing alright.”     – See more at playbill.com

On this page, check out Queen Latifah’s Tweets, as well as the Twitter Feed of the multi-talented Christine Pedi, who also played Mama Morton in Chicago on Broadway.

Here’s a quick clip of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith singing ‘Lost Your Head Blues’ in the critically acclaimed HBO film Bessie:


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