If somebody told me a year ago that the biggest event of the Broadway season was going to be Pamela Anderson, I would have replied, “You’ve had enough! I’m cutting you off.”
And yet her name, like that of Roxie Hart — the role she’s going to play in the musical “Chicago” starting April 12 — is on everybody’s lips in Shubert Alley.
After the casting of Anderson, 54, was announced this week, there was an outpouring of supportive media coverage for the 25-year-old production. Fans are giddy. Online commenters have fawned, not mocked. Tickets are selling well. And one friend who used to work in the theater industry plans on flying in from Denver just for Pam.
That’s because she’s an iconic entertainment figure. The 1990s personified. Wall art for millions of millennial and Gen X dudes.
Who doesn’t love Pamela Anderson?
And now we’re living in a golden age for the golden-haired bombshell. The former “Baywatch” babe and Playboy Playmate is enjoying a career and reputation rebirth after a yearslong absence.
The “Chicago” news comes as viewers across the globe are glued to “Pam & Tommy,” the acclaimed Hulu show about the burglary and sale of her famous sex tape with rocker ex-husband Tommy Lee. And there’s a long-gestating Netflix documentary — that she participated in — on the way.
It all feels good, doesn’t it? Like finding a missing puzzle piece under the couch — Pam’s back. She hasn’t made a film or TV show since 2018, and her work in the years before that was often silly cameos. After intermission in “Chicago,” Roxie tells the audience, “I’m gonna have me a swell Act 2.” When Anderson says those lines onstage next month, she’ll also be speaking for herself.
Our fond memories of the actress started resurfacing with “Pam & Tommy,” which Anderson hasn’t endorsed.
Starring a fantastic Lily James, the show revisits Pam’s ordeal through a feminist lens, similar to the way that Monica Lewinsky, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have all been reexamined in recent years. It portrays the sex tape’s theft and release as a major trauma for Anderson — an intelligent woman who dreamed of a quiet family life was robbed and wronged. That jerk Jay Leno is portrayed by Adam Ray as a Gargamel-like villain because of Leno’s exploitative “Tonight Show” interview. Gotta love that!
Anderson doesn’t act in it herself, but the miniseries is a win for her. And a much-needed one, at that.
The actress has become better known in recent years for her bizarre friendship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — a duo as likely as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in “Twins” — and her plea to get former President Trump to pardon him. (He didn’t.) Despite saying she “loves” Assange, the star, who has two sons with Lee, has always denied any romance with him; her 13-month marriage to bodyguard Dan Hayhurst, her fifth, ended in January.
Her personal life is fun, sure, but I prefer performer Pam to speaking-on-behalf-of-an-Australian-accused-of-espionage Pam.
Now comes “Chicago.” Can Anderson sing or dance? YouTube taught me she can croon a convincing “Santa Baby” live onstage — and, for Roxie, that’s really all you need. Renée Zellweger didn’t go on to release an album of pop hits. As for dancing, running on a beach is harder than it looks. (Mark my words, she’ll be the biggest draw for straight men on Broadway since Bruce Springsteen.)
This is a wonderful moment for her. The next two months on Broadway will see huge names including Daniel Craig, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Billy Crystal emblazoned on Midtown marquees.
But everybody’s talking about Pamela Anderson.