January 29, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

Chicago’s razzle-dazzle won her Oscar gold. Could her less glitzy role in Broadway’s A Little Night Music nab her a Tony?

Just before the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music opened on Broadway in December, star Catherine Zeta-Jones waltzed on stage during a preview performance and belted out never-before-heard lyrics to the first act’s tune ”The Glamorous Life.” ”I don’t know what the hell I sang! I was thinking about something else, and all of a sudden the chord hits, and I went, ‘What am I singing?”’ recalls the 40-year-old Oscar winner. ”It’s a recurring nightmare. I didn’t miss a beat, but I don’t think I did Stephen Sondheim justice at all!”

That may sound like a novice’s mistake, but in actuality, Zeta-Jones launched her career in the mid-’80s London production of 42nd Street. (Just as in the show, she got the lead role after both the star and the understudy fell ill.) And despite the momentary flub in Music, the actress has been garnering strong reviews for her portrayal of diva actress Desirée Armfeldt opposite five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, 84. ”I’m in awe of her career!” says Zeta-Jones. ”How dare I ever, ever publicly announce that I feel tired when I see her doing eight shows a week!” Such a rigorous theater schedule will keep her away from movie sets — she’ll next be seen cougar-romancing The Hangover‘s Justin Bartha in the indie The Rebound — through June, when her run in Music ends.

In spite of the exhaustion that comes with live theater, Zeta-Jones still finds Broadway’s quirks amusing — though hubby Michael Douglas might see it differently. ”I’ve had a few marriage proposals from the crowd,” she says of the fans who gather at the stage door daily, ”but I think to myself, ‘Gosh, they must be living on Mars to think that I’m not married.”’

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