December 1st, 2009
01:01 PM ET

Ashlee Simpson Wentz makes her Broadway debut

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It was a family affair as Ashlee Simpson Wentz made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in the musical "Chicago" on Monday night at the Ambassador Theater with sister Jessica, parents Joe and Tina and hubby Pete Wentz cheering the actress on from the audience.

Simpson, who first appeared in the role in London’s West End, has joined the "Chicago" cast for a 10-week run through February.

“I love her energy. She’s spunky. She acts like a little broad,” said veteran "Chicago" stage actress Roz Ryan, who has played prison matron “Mama” Morton for 12 years. “When I first saw her I said ‘ohmygosh she’s so tiny’ and when she got onstage I was like ‘hellll lookey at her’.”

Simpson Wentz said reviving the role was just like riding a bike. “Once you get onstage it all comes back,” she said following the show.

Her stage turn follows her ejection from CW series “Melrose Place” this fall. Though Simpson was uniformly panned for her small-screen work, the over-acting that made her seem awkward on the dramatic series served her well as the comedic heroine Hart onstage.

“She was playing a dark character,” proud papa Joe Simpson explained about his daughter’s role on “Melrose Place.” “She was playing pretty evil which is not who she is. She’s funny.”

Joe Simpson said he was crying throughout the performance. The whole Simpson family, in fact, was pretty emotional.

“I’m gonna cry. I brought Kleenex,” Ashlee’s elder sister Jessica exclaimed before the show. But during the musical Jessica laughed more than cried, “She is doing her own version of Roxie Hart,” Simpson said about her sister’s booty-shaking vaudevillian performance.

Tears did come to Jessica’s eyes as she and the entire family gave Simpson Wentz a standing ovation at the end of the performance, while the rest of the audience remained in their seats.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” Jessica hastily said after the show before she was rushed into a makeshift VIP area at the show’s after-party at the Inc Lounge in the Time Hotel. While the rest of the cast mingled with well-wishers, the Simpson Wentz clan privately celebrated Ashlee’s performance in the back of the bar.

The one family member who sat out Ashlee’s opening night was her and Wentz’ one-year old son Bronx, who was home asleep, though he did make it to a rehearsal earlier in the day.

“Bronx was there and cheering her on and laughing,” Joe Simpson said.

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soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. RebeccaJ

    First of all, I will say that she does in fact have a confirmed rigorous classical ballet backround, and I believe some tap as well. So her training and in my opinion dance talent is there.

    I think where public annoynance comes into play, is how they speak in the media. Jessica and her father tend to have foot-in-mouth syndrome a little too frequently for some people's taste. She had the chance to be in a new show that had big shoes to fill because it was naturally going to be compared to its predecessor. So, they let her go, or didn't feel her character worked out, or what have you. It happens to everyone. You don't need to make a big scene about it by saying the show is crap, and "thank god my sister is amazing and got you some press." She's too old and has been in this business too long to think its acceptable to speak like that. They could just replace her character with a different actress – that's happend mid season to tons of actresses! And her bit on E News how "the Tony's should look out, cause my baby's gonna get em in June!" and "She's no one to beat on our girl" (the reporter asked about Catherine Zeta Jones IN A Little Night Music, – a role that IS elegible. Something about was her perf. as Desiree competition) That's great that your excited, but someone DID tell you she's not elegible RIGHT? Because the revival has been around since '96?

    She could eventually win a Tony, but pretending you didn't say something a day later when someone politely corrects is just silly. You can say you were caught in the moment or misunderstood the question (she could have honestly thought the rep. was comparing CH perf. even though they weren't the same character). But don't flat out lie when they have you on camera. Ashlee's decision to keep to herself and family also sadly came off as snobbish, because the cast didn't HAVE to throw her a party (it's not required and certainly doesn't happen for many people who come in as replacements) and they did. She could have mingled with fans and spent time with her co workers, but instead chose not to. She's breezed past satgedoor every night so far. SD is not at all required true, but she's made such a fuss over how she appreciates their support...and chose to stay with just an inner circle instead of making it known that she was grateful for a kind gesture.

    This was not meant to be a critique on her performance by the way. Just a defense of her dance background and a constructive way to say why people may have a bitter taste in their mouth's and how it could affect their view of her performance. Tried awfully hard to be polite.

    December 15, 2009 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. Victor

    You know, I understand people trashing her for the whole Melrose fiasco. She was pretty bad in it, but then again, you can only do so much with the kind of crappy scripts that type of show generates. I remember when she was on 7th Heaven. She wasn't Emmy worthy or anything like that, but she did a pretty good job on that show. The MTV show was one of those god awful stars in reality shows deals, and let's be frank, all of those SUCK.

    I say give the girl a chance and let her try. I've seen some good reviews for the Chicago performance, so she can't be all bad. You all have to remember, she's still developig as an actress, and who knows, maybe in time she will even have Oscar worthy performances. Rome was not built in one day, neither are acting careers.

    December 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. grrrr

    matt198199= shes not running allover hollywood? puhleeze..she and her hubby goes out partying all the time, she got plastered, gave him a pathetic lap dance, and then yells at his ex girlfriend that while she/( the ex) was kissing him/pete, smashlee was f**ing him..real class act she is...
    im sure daddy joe had some strings pulled to get smashlee into broadway too... she tanked her albums, she tanked on melrose place, and im not holding out much hope for her too..she needs to just go home and focus on her son.

    December 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. In The Know

    Ashlee Simpson was signed to Geffen Records as part of a back end guarantee deal from a Reality Television show her sister was on. Its the ONLY reason she was signed and every one in the music and TV business is aware of this.
    I would not doubt for one second that Joe Simpson was involved in some kind of financial guarantee on the back end of this casting in case it tanks. He did it to get his daughter a record contract when she cannot sing, and is stiff and unnatural onstage................and he probably did it here. Things like this are no secret to anyone in major entertainment, but are almost totally unknown to the public at large. The fact is she stinks.

    December 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. char

    i agree w/ Michael O'farrell= all the true talent and they give it to her? i guess w/ her jig-dancing on SNL is credential enough.... ( rolling eyes)
    her and her sister have no talent.. i wish they would both go away...their 15 min of fame is way over.

    December 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Teresa

    I am SO SICK of hearing about anyone from this family. Look what plastic surgery and celebrity seeking parents can get you. Give me a break and give me a story about some REAL entertainment!

    December 2, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pete

    "She was playing a dark character,” proud papa Joe Simpson explained about his daughter’s role on “Melrose Place.” “She was playing pretty evil which is not who she is. She’s funny.”

    Yeah this is weird... Joe Simpson 'defending' her acting skill by saying she can't play characters who are unlike her. I guess if Melrose Place needs an evil character, they should to hire an evil actor.

    December 2, 2009 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. matt198199

    I have no idea why you all are bashing her.....I think she is a beautiful
    actress and atleast not out running around like half the other actress's in hollywood......and she does have talent did everyone forget 7th heaven.....

    December 2, 2009 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. bnm8551

    I like Ashlee, her last album that wasn't promoted was very good and won over a lot of critics. Now for her sister, that's another story.

    December 2, 2009 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Marilyn

    It is amazing to me that there are so many excellent talented struggling actors/actresses and they gave this part to a no talent, manufactured person. Jessica and Ashley both have no talent and should retire along with their father.

    December 2, 2009 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Debra R

    Wow lots of hate going on here....I always liked Ashlee's albums and I used to watch her on 7th heaven...hopefully people will give her a chance to proe herself....

    December 2, 2009 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jason

    She wasnt that bad on 7th Heaven. Kind of went downhill from there though.

    December 2, 2009 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sue

    What's with all the hate? It sounds like she did a great job. People that saw have said so. You all just can't accept that, can you?

    December 2, 2009 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kmack

    Actually, despite what most of you say.. Ashlee is a trained dancer and was very devoted to her ballet as a child and young teen but because of Jessica's success she had to give it up when her family relocated. She has already reformed this role many times in the London Broadway. And received excellent reviews. As for Melrose.. that whole show sucks and probably won't last. I don't think she was given this role to bring in anything other than her talent. Chicago is a HUGE HUGE Broadway production... that I am SURE brought out many talented performers for auditions. I wish her the best of luck! She clearly has a better career than her sister.

    December 2, 2009 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michael O'farrell

    My gosh, all the talented actors in this country and they give this part to her? What a joke, and disrespect to the people that really deserved the part.

    December 2, 2009 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  16. In The Know

    Those "Execs" are counting on all of the kids being dragged into Manhattan for holiday shopping trying to get their parents to bring them to this show to see Simfraud. That is why she was chosen. A new all time low for Broadway. To a lesser extent they tried to do this with Christina Applegate when there were far far more qualified performers for Sweet Charity. They will do anything they think will work to fill seats. It has nothing to do with great art. Not anymore.

    December 2, 2009 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  17. equinSF

    I'm also in awe that this girl has been booked for 10 weeks!! I really wanted to go to this show in January, but not anymore. I would actually pay *not* to ever see her. It is truly sad that there are SO many talented actors in NYC, and the starring role goes to an "actress" only because her family is wealthy and powerful. She was already *given* her own MTV show, a heavily promoted album, a TV role (all of which she failed miserably at), and now a stint on Broadway? Enough please!!

    December 1, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  18. RHoll

    I wonder what the odds are that she won't last the 10 weeks?

    December 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Lip Sync

    Just lip synching allowed Ashlee. I can't believe the Simpson's can still get work.....of can always dance a jig if things go wrong on stage.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Manda

    They offer her parts because for some reason having a recognizable celeb name, even if they are not know for good acting/singing etc, will sell tickets.

    December 1, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Birdie

    "She was playing a dark character,” proud papa Joe Simpson explained about his daughter’s role on “Melrose Place.” “She was playing pretty evil which is not who she is. She’s funny.”
    Interesting Mr. Simpson, because I thought that's what ACTORS do, they play different characters. That's why they call it acting!

    December 1, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  22. RHoll

    What I can't understand is that execs in the "biz" keep offering her jobs when they know she has no talent.

    December 1, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  23. joe in chi-town

    Saw it in person and it was fantastic! Going back with my boyfriend!

    December 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Jroc

    Still at it Ashlee? Welp, acting and music sure hasn't gone your way so far, maybe this combo of the two will.

    Pfft! *eyes sarcastically rolling* HA!

    December 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |

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