Chicago - The Musical by August Krickel

The Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County isn't just a performance venue, it's home to the Camden Community Theatre, which springs back to life with a lavish production of Chicago - The Musical, opening Friday Jan. 20th at 8 PM.

Chicago - The Musical, with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb (best known for their earlier work Cabaret) and book by Ebb and original director/choreographer Bob Fosse, recounts a lurid yet comic tale of romance, murder, intrigue, courtroom and jailhouse shenanigans, media spin,  and of course, "all that jazz."  Its original Broadway cast in the '70's featured Jerry Orbach, Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon;  a stripped-down minimalist revival in the 90's starred Anne Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and Joel Grey, and that latter incarnation spawned the popular movie, with Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah.


This latest version for the greater Columbia area features Virginia Owen as Velma, a chic vaudeville star on trial for the murder of her husband and sister, Chip Collins as her slick lawyer, Billy Flynn, Abigail Smith Ludwig as Roxie, a chorus girl who longs for Velma's notoriety, Zack Gurley as Roxie's sad sack husband Amos, and Nancy Ann Smith as prison matron "Mama" Morton.

Director Frank Thompson, a relatively recent transplant to the Midlands, directed South Pacific last fall at Town Theatre, and has been seen in shows like The Drowsy Chaperone, Harvey and Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings. He and Ludwig appeared together in White Christmas along with Nancy Ann Smith and choreographer Kaitlyn Rainwater.  Thompson brought four of his principals to the Jasper party at the Arcade Mall last week, where, accompanied by musical director Andy Wells, they wowed 'em with the old razzle dazzle. It's worth noting that Smith (a mainstay of local theatre since the late 80's in brassy roles like Mama Rose in Gypsy, Anytime Annie in 42nd St., and Molly Malloy in The Front Page) is Ludwig's mom, and that another daughter, Elizabeth Smith Baker, is appearing in the last weekend of Spring Awakening over at Trustus Theatre. With three of four talented, singing Smiths onstage this weekend, Jasper wants to know where is 3rd sister Rachel (a standout in the 2010 Trustus production of reasons to be pretty) ?

Chicago - The Musical runs this weekend and next, though the 29th, with curtain at 8 PM, plus two Sunday matinees at 3 PM.   For more information or for tickets call 803-425-7676 extension 300 or visit the Fine Arts Center website at  The Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County is located at 810 Lyttleton Street in Camden. Box office hours are Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM, and Thursday 10 AM - 6 PM.

In other theatre news, Workshop Theatre continues its successful run of John and Jen (running through Sat. Jan. 28th) featuring Kevin Bush and Linda Posey, and directed by Chad Henderson, who also directed Spring Awakening (which closes Saturday night.)  Also on Friday Jan. 20th, Town Theatre premieres its new production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, directed by Scott Blanks and featuring Kyle L. Collins, Doug Gleason, and Giulia Dalbec-Matthews; she and Blanks teamed up on last spring's Victor/Victoria and Drowsy Chaperone (which also featured Thompson) , while she and Collins have appeared together in shows like Fiddler on the Roof and High School Musical.   Meaning that there are not one but at least four name-brand musicals running this weekend for the greater Columbia arts community, so make those reservations now!

~ August Krickel