By Melissa Griegel . . .
The gorgeous Bianca Marroquín floated onto the 54 Below stage in sexy and elegant floor-length red gown and heels. This Broadway star, best known for playing Roxie Hart in Chicago, delighted the crowd with stories about her life, songs from Broadway, and a mix of songs in Spanish, including three of her original pieces. Bianca was born in the border town of Monterrey, Mexico and spent her childhood going back and forth from Mexico to Texas. “We were very privileged to have grown up between two worlds, two traditions, two languages, two cultures,” she recalled. “My mom used to always say that it was a gift. I knew I had another gift. I knew what I wanted to do since I was three. I wanted to be a dancer.” Her show was sprinkled with dancing, no small feat considering she was on a small stage packed with musicians. Bianca moves with elegance and grace and it is an absolute delight to watch her dance.
“The last time I was at 54 Below was 2017,” she said. “A lot has happened. I am now a completely different person. What I have learned is happiness is letting go of the past and embracing where you are.” Throughout the show, Bianca talked about the ups and downs of her life, including failed marriages and relationships, amazing roles and failed shows, and life during COVID when she married the true love of her life and became an instant step-mom to four kids during the quarantine.
Bianca got her start in a production of Beauty and the Beast in Mexico City and followed with several other Mexican productions of Broadway shows including Chicago. This led to her playing Roxie Hart on the US Chicago tour, and then to playing the role on Broadway. “I have been playing Roxie Hart on and off for over twenty years,” she said. “Roxie has been the only constant in my life.” When Broadway re-opened after the pandemic closure, she got a call asking her to return to the show, this time as Velma. “I have admired my Velmas. All this time I was like their little sister. My Velmas were like my wiser sisters, my idols.” She then went on to talk about some of the Velma actresses she worked with as Roxie. “When I was in the dressing room and Cleo was dressing me, and I put on that Velma dress, I looked at myself in the mirror and started crying like a little girl because I realized that I had finally grown up.”
Eddie Bennett – Bianca Marroquín – Colt Weiss
Bianca included songs from Kiss of the Spider Woman, Songs for a New World, The Sound of Music, Sunday in the Park with George, and A Chorus Line, in addition to a few non-Broadway pieces. One of my favorite pieces was “Cuatro Vientos”, a song that truly came from her heart. Although Bianca has been playing piano since she was a child and began composing songs at the age of 14, she never actually learned to read music. Her musical ear is spot on as evidenced by the fact that not only did she write the music and lyrics for three songs she performed in the show, but she also accompanied herself at the piano for one of the songs. “Volver a La Luz” (“Return to the Light”) – a song she wrote for a show that never opened. “It’s about a person suffering from guilt. Or someone we haven’t forgiven. I hope it goes straight to your heart even if you don’t understand the lyrics.” Bianca sings with such emotion that it is easy to feel the depth of one of her songs even if you don’t speak Spanish. Her second original piece, “Fly Butterfly”, was dedicated to her sister-in-law Bonnie who was in the audience. For “Your Love Lets Me See”, Bianca sat at the piano and explained that she wrote this song for her husband and sang it to him at their recent wedding.
Dan Micciche – Bianca Marroquin
The show ended with a crowd-pleaser when Bianca reappeared on stage in a short sequined dress with fringe, sashaying up to the stage with dancers Eddie Bennett and Colt Weiss for a rousing song and dance mash-up of “All That Jazz” and “Roxie” from Chicago. Having played both Roxie and Velma on Broadway made this a really fun number to watch. Music Director and pianist Dan Micciche was joined by Alex Bender on trumpet, Michael Blanco on bass, Lou Garrett on guitar, Lilly Holgate on violin, Matt Vanderen on drums, and Mike Webb on reeds. Dan Micciche made his Broadway debut as Mary Sunshine in Chicago.
Bianca’s show took place at 54 Below on April 1st, 2023.
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography