Her alma mater is Northern Illinois University; she grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago and has performed at area theaters including the Goodman, Apollo and Drury Lane, but Christine was most recently seen bell-bottomed and belting out ABBA tunes in “Mamma Mia” at Las Vegas’s Tropicana. She finally ditches the dry air for some Chicago love in the world-premiere, pre-Broadway production of “First Wives Club,” a stage version of the 1996 movie about three reunited college friends who deal with dastardly spouses and plot revenge. Through March 29. Tickets $33-$100. Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., 800.775.2000
You’re creating this on-stage character that was created in the movie version by Goldie Hawn. What’s that like?
A daunting honor. She is sheer brilliance in this movie, and I admire all of her work. I think she brings heartfelt humor, which is not easy. I've often heard I remind people of her; mostly people reference the movie “Overboard.”
What do you think the on-stage version of this story brings to audiences that the movie couldn’t?
Well, the audience brings it all. Here, a large group of people come together with those they chose, to sit and watch us progress live in motion in a story that touches them in some way. There is nothing like live theater simply because we are able to share the human experience all together. This story is important for anyone who has fallen in love or fallen out of love....with themselves or another. Can you imagine sitting next to your dearest friend and experiencing that story in the moment? Nothing like it, I say.
This is such a great strong-woman story. Where do you get your strength?
I'm the mom to three boys, and I have an incredible husband. So my answer would be "my boys." Elise draws her strength from her girlfriends, and I certainly relate to that. My two closest friends have been with me for 20 years through divorce, the birth of all three of my sons...all the ups and downs.
How’s it feel to be back in your home town after Las Vegas? And in the cold, no less?
Ha! I sure enjoyed Vegas a lot. Even though singing in Chicago is much easier! It was a challenge to sing in the dry heat of Vegas. I had to learn all new habits for hydration. But even on its coldest day, Chicago warms my soul. It will always be home.
Where in Chicago did you grow up?
We currently have a home in Saint Charles where we raised our boys. I've always lived in the western suburbs. We now also have a place in South Orange, NJ...an easy commute to Manhattan.
Do you still have family and friends here?
Yes! All of my family lives in Chicago as well as all of my childhood friends. I also have dear close friends in the Chicago theater community. It's the most challenging part of spending so much time in NY, I miss them all tremendously.
What are some of your longtime favorite Chicago haunts?
This question really makes me think I work too much! I'm either in a Bikram yoga studio, at home or in a Chicago theater...working.
When you have free time to go out to eat, are there any new restaurants you’re hoping to try during your time here?
I'd like to try Balena, which is right in the Theatre District.
What makes Chicago such a great place to premiere a show?
Chicago has a well versed, well-educated audience that is welcoming to new work. As Midwesterners, they naturally appreciate a show with heart, and this show...well, it's all heart.
My Perfect Day
9:30 am: Mom Time, Me Time
After a rousing hour of playing Thomas the Train with my 3-year-old, I would head off to a Bikram yoga class at my favorite studio Bikram Yoga St. Charles. While we’re doing “First Wives Club” at the Oriental, I practice at Bikram Yoga West Loopp. 611 W. Adams St., 312.219.9001
Noon: Take Five
Lunch at Balena, right across from the Steppenwolf. 1633 N. Halsted St., 312.867.3888
2 pm: Cue the Music
Chicago Music Exchange with my twins. They’re both musicians themselves; they love it here and could spend hours playing around. I enjoy it because it reminds me that we are one in the same. Music makes them happy... It makes me happy. Hell, I hope it makes everyone happy. 3316 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.525.7773
4 pm: Pampering
No way to pry the boys out of the Exchange, so I'd head to Polish and Pour in Old Town for a mani, pedi and glass of wine. 1244 N. Wells St., 312.274.9935
6 pm: Cravings, satisfied
A Fritzel salad at Petterinos [Boston lettuce, hearts of palm, avocado, Lorenzo dressing]. It’s a tradition Jessie Mueller [Tony-winner, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”] and I started. We coined the two show days “fritzel day,” where we crept into a luscious booth and enjoyed this delectable treat. Once, while working at the Goodman, I happened to be very pregnant, and I must have eaten the Fritzel every day. I should have named my baby Fritzel! 150 N. Dearborn St., 312.422.0150