published Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Singing, dancing and all that jazz in CCP's 'Chicago'


What: "Chicago."

When: Through Oct. 7.

Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.

Admission: $26 adults, $25 seniors, $24 groups, $14 children/students.

Phone: 931-484-5000.


There's nothing like a good combination of singing, dancing and murder.

That's what's in store for theatergoers starting this week with the musical "Chicago" at the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville, Tenn.

"As the [show's] emcee says," said director John Fionte, "there's murder, betrayal, lust, betrayal ... all those things we hold near and dear to our heart. It's a big, big, spectacular musical. And there's amazing choreography."

It's the Crossville theater's first time to present the Tony Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning production, which first hit Broadway in 1975 and was a 2002 Oscar-winning film starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah.

The show focuses on tough chorus girls Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who are serving time for murder. Sly, cocky defense attorney Billy Flynn, meanwhile, is hard at work finding the girls more fame and fortune as criminals than they had in vaudeville.

The show features songs such as "All That Jazz," "Cell Block Tango" and "When You're Good to Mama."

"They're all big, standout numbers," Fionte said. "There are very few that are not memorable."

Playing the chorus girls are Ali Gritz and Joann Coleman, both newcomers to the Crossville stage and both members of the cast of the currently running "Little Shop of Horrors."

Gritz, according to Fionte, is from New York and Coleman is a resident of Nashville.

"They're triple threats [in acting, singing and dancing]," he said.

Fionte said the production has softened a bit of the language in the production. The 2002 movie had a PG-13 rating for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements.

"Ultimately, the show is what it is," he said. "No matter how much you change, it's still inescapably what the show is about -- murder and adultery."

That said, "I hope we don't do [shows for] shock value or [to be] gratuitous," Fionte said. "I'd like to think we have a fair amount of good taste."

Theatergoers, he said, will see not only good singing and dancing but also a good story.

"My main focus," Fionte said, "is to give them the very best 'Chicago' I can create and direct, with all of the creative team we have."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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