'Chicago' to set Gaslight ablaze with murder and 'all that jazz'

"Murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery - all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts." So begins the musical Chicago, and it never backs off from that bold and sinister promise.

The Gaslight Dinner Theatre will sizzle with the kiss-and-tell tale of two sultry dancers who will do anything to be stars - even murder - in a spectacular production of Chicago coming May 24-June 30 to The Renaissance Center in Dickson.

A Broadway smash and Oscar-winning film, Chicago features jazzy musical numbers and Bob Fosse choreography that have made it one of the hottest tickets in New York since the revival opened 10 years ago and is still running strong.

The Gaslight Dinner Theatre presents Chicago Fridays and Saturdays beginning with a buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include dinner, drink, dessert and the show.

Senior matinees for patrons 55 and over are Thursdays and Fridays beginning with a buffet lunch at noon. Tickets are $20 and include lunch, drink, dessert and the show. Tickets are on sale now.

Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who kills her lover as a career move; Velma Kelly, the glamorous double-murderess vying to keep her press supremacy; and Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer who has the power to keep them from death row and make them into stars. It is a loving look back at the time of vaudeville, a timely satire of the justice system and a reminder of what great theatre can be.

Based on the original play by Maurine Watkins, which opened in New York in 1926, the musical adaptation by Fred Ebb, John Kander and Fosse debuted on Broadway in 1975 and ran for two years, picking up 11 Tony nominations.
The revival, which opened in 1996 and is still running after more than 4,200 shows, earned eight nominations and took home six Tonys, including Best Musical Revival.

During its ongoing run, Chicago has featured such stars as Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Gray, Taye Diggs, Sandy Duncan, Jasmine Guy, Marilu Henner, Wayne Brady, Melanie Griffith, Huey Lewis, Gretchen Mol, John O'Hurley, Brooke Shields, Patrick Swayze, Tom Wopat and Usher.

The 2002 movie version was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and danced away with six, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and three Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Richard Gere) and Best Actress (Rene Zellweger). The cast also included Diggs, John C. Reilly, Chita Rivera, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski and Lucy Liu.

"Chicago sparked a renewed interest in musicals at the movies and still plays to sold-out houses on Broadway," said Amy Scott, managing director of the Renaissance Players who will be directing the Gaslight production. "With its dazzling dance numbers and over-the-top characters, this show is sure to be the hottest production we've ever done in the Gaslight Dinner Theatre."

Arkansas native Cheyenne Nelson, who scorched the stage as Reno Sweeney in the Gaslight production of Anything Goes, returns to The Renaissance Center to play Velma, the dancing jailbird with an ear for headlines and an eye for talent.

Ohio native Sara Schoch, who won a Jimmy Award for Best Actress in a Musical for playing gangster moll Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, puts the moxie in the role of Roxie Hart in her sixth Gaslight show.

Indiana native Ryan Hunt, a veteran of 12 previous Gaslight productions including Lend Me a Tenor, Run for Your Wife, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and both Frank Sinatra musical revues, is Billy Flynn, the self-serving attorney who doesn't care if is client is guilty, as long as she is a star.

"With a cast of talented singers and a stage full of hot dancers, Chicago will be as hot again as the night Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over that lantern in 1871," Scott said. "Not since Anything Goes has the Gaslight Dinner Theatre presented such a showcase of choreography and music."

Tickets for the Gaslight Dinner Theatre production of Chicago are on sale now at (615) 740-5570. For more information, call (615) 740-5600 or visit www.rcenter.org.

The Renaissance Center is a fine arts education and performing arts center at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

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