Interview: Divina de Campo (Chicago)
“I think I’ve probably known ‘All That Jazz’ for my entire life.” laughs Divina de Campo. “You just end up knowing the music from Chicago through osmosis.”
It’s true. ‘Razzle Dazzle’ isn’t a song, it’s style. ‘Cell Block Tango’ is a secret you keep locked away inside of you. ‘All That Jazz’ is fashion.
“The soundtrack has kind of bubbled away in the background of my life.” says Divina, with devotion. “I knew the music way before I’d seen the show, way before I’d seen the show at all!”
Divina’s first introduction of Chicago as a full piece of work, like many, was to the 2002 movie adaptation. At the time of release, she was a teen working the contemporary arts and cabaret scene, dreaming of the big stage with adoring audiences.
Now, she’s starring in the UK tour of the iconic musical.
Divina De Campo in Chicago
“This is kind of dream-come-true territory for me. As a little 14 year old, gay kid, they would be clapping their hands and jumping up and down at this point.” she says and I know it is true.
She shares her adoration and admiration for the talented ensemble who “bring themselves to the show every night,” and the beauty within the cast and the support system they have built for each other.
Divina is playing the elusive Mary Sunshine; a tabloid reporter who follows the trials of two high-profile celebrity murderesses who have been banged up for seeking revenge on those who dare to cross them.
It is the time before curtains that she's able to really channel Mary Sunshine.
“Obviously, I have a process of having to put my face on, nails, and the lashes and then the costume.” she explains, “That's a big part of it for me. I sort of spend that time thinking about who she is. What her overarching motivation is, what is it that she's trying to achieve and accomplish within the show? So all of that is sort of happening while I'm putting my face on."
“... Without giving too much away, she's a character that exudes kindness and a love for her fellow man, you know. Maybe, people don't know her as much as they think they do. She's trying to find the good in people.”
Considering the similarities between herself and Mary, Divina confirms; “I'm not backwards in coming forward when people are doing things, which I think are damaging to other people and will hurt them.”
This - and her high soprano and 4-octave range - will be no surprise to fans who will have seen her successful, and beautiful, accomplishments on the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
“With your everyday folk, I try to be as kind as I possibly can be.”
The satirical and sexy Chicago is an iconic piece of brilliant vaudevillian theatre that stylishly blurs the line between show business and criminal justice in its daring picture of society. With a score that has melded into pop culture psyche and instantly recognisable, deliciously irresistible choreography, Divina gleefully expresses, “The whole show is just gorgeous!” multiple times throughout our call.
“There's a couple of tracks in the show, which I just absolutely adore watching - ‘All That Jazz’ is one of them, ‘Razzle Dazzle’ is another. Then the song that Roxy sings, ‘Me And My Baby’. I love the choreography. There's something about that that makes me smile. It's beautiful. But it's also kind of there's something quite kitschy about it. In that real sort of, it's sexy. A little nod and a wink, you know.” she says.
Despite spending the last near two years in lockdown, sharing a two bed flat with her husband, Divina insists that taking a trip to the theatre to watch a show about women behind bars is absolutely what the audience need.
“It's a perfect musical for this time. Everybody's been locked up, and we've all been talking doors. And so I don't want to go and watch Tolstoy or, you know... I don't want that. I want something that is fun, and sexy, and it's gonna make me smile from beginning to end. And that's exactly what Chicago does.”
“Every night there is something different.” she says, and I believe her.
Chicago plays at Nottingham's TRCH Oct 18 - Oct 23, tickets here, before continuing on tour throughout 2021 and 2022.