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a Musical
by Kander and Ebb

COMPANY : Rosewater Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Cumming Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 2454

SHOWING : September 07, 2007 - September 28, 2007



"The Rosewater Theatre is thrilled to be able to bring this smash hit to North Georgia for the first time ever and perform it at the Cumming Playhouse, which is the perfect location for this 1920ís show."

sound and light manager Deryl Cape
Director Rob Hardie
Choreographer Colleen Hargis
Trumpet Bill Botzong
Tuba Bob Dashiell
Drummer Jeff Macko
Music Director Bob Russell
Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet Steve Weikle
Trombone Herb Wheelock
Annie Lauren Berkley
Fogerty Andy Danh
Go to Hell Kitty Alicia Gum
Reporter Adrienne Harris
Velma Kelly Lauren Jann
Aaron Tyler Kanady
Mona Kara Whitney Large
Hunyak Suzanne Milton
Amos Hart Nicholas Morrett
June/Reporter Stephanie Newsome
June Ngozi Okoli
MARY SUNSHINE Amanda Leigh Pickard
Fred Casely G. Scott Riley
Reporter Cheryl Rogers
Mama Morton Kathy Russell
The Jury Christopher Ryan Smith
Billy Flynn Daniel Van Heil
Reporter Valerie Wagner
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Tale of Two Chicago's
by g8grrl
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I've seen two Chicago's in recent weeks. One was at the Cumming Playhouse and one is currently at the Holly in Dalonaga. I'm combining my reviews by comparing the strengths and weakneses of both.

^^ Strengths ^^

Both theaters are gorgous!

The ensemble is stronger at the Holly. And overall the Holly's acting and singing is so much better.

The leads, with one exception, were so much stronger at the Cumming Playhouse.

The direction at the Cumming Playhouse was very creative and exciting.

The chorus singing and dancing is so much stronger at the Holly.

I loved the Velma at Cumming.

I loved the Roxie at the Holly.

The Billy Flynn at Cumming was HOT!

Whoever the cute guy is at the Holly who did those fab tricks is sooo amazing!

I really like the Amos in Cumming.

I really liked the Mama at the Holly.

The band was very exciting at Cumming. Yea!

I loved the costumes at the Holly. If you got it, flaunt it! Oh yea baby!

^^ Weaknessess ^^

I didn't like the Roxie at Cumming at all. She stuck out so bad she almost ruined the show for me.

I didn't care for the Velma at the Holly. Although not bad like the Roxie at Cumming, she didn't have the flair and pizzaz I wanted to see.

I didn't care at all for the ensemble cast at Cumming.

I was soooo dispointed in the Billy Flynn at the Holly.

The supporting men in the cast were mostly lame in Cumming.

I didn't like the Amos at the Holly.

The chorography at both shows was very lame. I guess its hard to do Fosse in community theater. It really shows.

The show ran 30 minutes longer at the Holly. Sometimes it drags like molasis.

I was disgusted by the costumes at Cumming. If you ain't got it, hide it. Jelly bellies are gross!

^^ Conclusion ^^

Both shows get a B-. I liked how the Cumming show looked and feeled. But the Roxie in Cumming made an A production into a low B. The Holly show is not well directed, but the cast and energy is better overall, and makes the show just as enjoyable. Good job both Chicago's! Woot!!!
I got my Roxie's right by g8grrl
Let me say I'm sorry if I was too mean to the Roxie at Cumming. She's got the lead so she should be able to take the heat. But I got her right. The one at Holly is young, sweet and talented. The one at Cumming was a very good actor and had a good Chicago accent. But she was too way old for the part, her singing was flat, and she danced slower than everyone else. She was very mis-cast as the lead. She would have made a better Mamma.
did you know... by bbotzong
The Roxie in Cumming was a replacement? The original broke her leg? Lisa stepped in and did a great job, regardless of age. AND, she's not that old for a lead in that play. Also, she has a strong British accent, so she was not only doing her American accent, but also put a touch of a Chicago one in there to boot.
re: did you know... by carlton9
I read somewhere that Lisa had eight weeks to learn the part. Last time I did a show eight weeks was a long time.
re: did you know by carlton9 last comment sounded very rude. I was just under the impression that Roxie had quite some time to step in and learn the role...nonetheless, a British accent with a Chicago accent on top of it was quite a feat I am sure.
Did something get deleted? by g8grrl
My comment was a response to another comment. But its not there anymore. Makes my comment seem weird. Oh well.
Well Done
by In the Shadows
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Not having been a theater goer till more recently, my opinion may not be highly valued. That being said, the show, which I saw 4 times, was very well executed. Vocally, I was absolutely amazed that there was such talent to be found in a community production. I canít believe that negative comments would command so much more attention than the amount of vocal talent was actually present. As far as the dance talent, I know that there was an extremely limited supply (maybe two or three had formal training). Knowing that, I should say that the dancing was quite phenomenal. As far as a production, I have seen professional, community, and high school theater productions and I would rate this somewhere between community and professional. Overall I was extremely impressed by this "ensemble". [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
by beapott
Some vocals were better than others.
Notice: Show is Over!!! by petunia
One of the things i love most about art, in any form, a painting, a story, a play, a song, a poem. Is that I want it to have an effect on an individual, i dont really care what emotion it creates, sadness, joy, understanding, anger, jealousy or outrage. I feel i have done my job as an artist and entertainer, if you just feel something....anything. I'd say we have done our job here, the show closed a week ago, and yet you are still all talking about it. Every show was sold out. We thank you!!
You know Chicago opened up at the Holly last if you are still hungry....well go get 'em!!!
Very Entertaining
by Sonya
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
This was our first preview of the Rosewater Theatre. I thought it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. My 12 year old daughter was in awe of the talent. While some were better than others, it takes more class to congratulate than to critisize. I saw all the work, sweat and tears that went into this production. I work with one of the actors and I know how much was personally put into this play. The dedication was remarkable and on many occasions I saw her exhausted. She never gave up. And along with the other cast members she prevailed in fininshing the show. All those that critisize the voice, the acting and the negatives should try out for a future act and experience what it really takes to just get up and complete a full show. Good Luck to the cast!!!
Sonya by mooniemcmoonster
For what its worth...I'd say about 80% of the reviewers on this site are actors by hobby, profession, or both.
hmmm..... by theaterislife
I'm willing to agree. Most of these "reviewers" we won't see again. I'd almost put some money on that.
by beapott
All productions are exhausting. I have worked both on stage as an actress and off producing and directing for about twenty some years now, including off-Broadway. I do believe I have some experience in the field and have a little to offer as far as advice is concerned. An "A" for effort, I am sure would satisfy some, but for those that are interested in truly pursuing a career in this field, constructive criticsm is a highly effective tool used in preparing for the future. All artists are aware of this.
To Beapott by bellsplayer
Not all productions are exhausting. Not even all good productions. In fact, many of the best shows I've been involved with at cusp of community/professional were an absolute breeze. Although all are 'work', only those where I was fighting against difficulties created by people (not facilities or budget) were truly exhausting.

Road trip to Chicago
by theaterislife
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This weekend I went alllllllll the way to Cumming to see this show.....all the way and it was a long trip. My first thought was like many Cumming?? Of all places that does seem unlikely in my opinion but what ever works.

There were aspects of the show that I enjoyed and aspects I didn't enjoy. I like the theater. It's quite cozy and charming. The location was a little difficult for me to find though I saw they had lights out front to guide people, it was too early in the day for me to see them. Anyways, the lighting really worked well for this show and I like the "Roxie" spelled out in lights during that song, I think it added a little extra pop you probably wouldn't have gotten in other theaters around town. The sound was just ok it's a good thing I have a keen sense of hearing because the mics didn't seem to be working very well during most of the show. The set was nicely done and I liked the band kind of blending into it seeing as how they were center stage I thought I would focus on them and they would distract me but that wasn't the case. Speaking of the band they were awesome. There was just the right amount of each instrument and it was just the right volume, didn't drown out the words or singing. The costuming was just ok. I think I liked the ensembles costumes more so than the leads with the exception of Kathy Russell as Mama. I loved her suit.... wanted one for myself... anyways I didn't like the costumes that were chosen for Roxie because they looked cheap and I don't mean that to be disrespectful but it looked like something you would find at one of those cheap stores where they sell outfits girls go club hopping in.

Moving on, the choreography was great though I have to agree with another poster that said it was strongly reminescent of the movie however, that wasn't an issue with me. I enjoyed it. I thought some of the dancers were not able to keep up with the quick pace that is required of most ensemble numbers in this show. As for the vocals most of the major roles were well suited for their character. I felt that Lisa Sherouse Riley was mis-cast as Roxie. I though she was too old for the part and I picture Roxie being younger and petite. Her singing was also flat during majority of the numbers and got a little unbearable in Funny Honey. It's tough to hear someone sing flat so much. I give her an E for effort in the dancing. I know that choreography was tough and she tried to hang in there (kudos for that) I also thought Daniel Van Heil was flat in a lot of his singing, he went sharp sometimes as well. I know its a tough show but still with a little more practice you can avoid those bad notes. (I should stop here because I know as a singer if you can't hear yourself a lot of times you don't realize you are singing flat so that could be attributed to the sound issues but maybe not, who knows?) I enjoyed his portrayal of Billy Flynn overall. One thing that bothered me with him was the leg on the table fell off and instead of picking it up and taking it off with the rest of the table he just left it there. Things like that in a show bother me and maybe that's just my ADD kicking in but still it wouldn't have hurt to just keep moving (and move it off stage). Anyways moving on (again) my favorite performer all around was Lauren Jann that woman has some God given talent and she really showed it as Velma. My favorite vocalist was Nicholas Morrett as Amos, he has a wonderful singing voice and excellent perception of character.

Bottom line? Does this show work for Cumming?? Judging from the crowd of course it does. I also hear they are sold out so if you don't have tickets now so sorry you have to miss it. If you are going there is no doubt that you will enjoy it and it's worth the price of the tickets. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Well worth seeing!
by sarahfortman
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
After seeing several shows at the Cumming Playhouse, I would have to say Chicago is our favorite musical so far. This was our 9th time at the playhouse, the 6th Rosewater show we have seen. It took us a few visits to the playhouse to realize that there were different theater companies at the playhouse. Yet again, Rosewater put on a wonderful show and my husband and I had a blast. We saw Barefoot in the Park at the playhouse earlier this year and it was great to see that the young man, Daniel VanHiel, who played the husband in that show, was in this show as Billy Flynn. We loved him Barefoot and thought he did a phenomenal job in Chicago.

We saw this show at the Fox and as far as entertainment value goes, we preferred this version of the show. The show as a whole was very entertaining, upbeat, fast paced and the actors were all superb. The music and dancing were phenomenal. I would never have believed that you could fit all those dancers on that small stage, but they did. The band seemed to be having so much fun up there and played extremely well. I loved the set and the lighting was amazing. All the main roles were very strong and they seemed to have great camaraderie on stage. The two lead ladies, Roxie and Velma, were just fantastic and perfect for their roles. I thought they looked the right age and portrayed their roles exactly the way I expected them to be. Sometimes I could not understand Ms. Jann who played Velma, she seemed to rush some of her words but her dancing and singing made up for that. Mama Morton, Amos and Mary Sunshine (who has a beautiful voice) all delivered their performances superbly. The cast as a whole did a great job. Although all the songs were very entertaining, my favorite numbers were Cell Block Tango, Reached For The Gun and Me and My Baby (which was hysterical).

The only negatives were that Amos seemed a little young for the role but that does not mean he didnít do a great job. I just see Amos as being older. And, at certain times during his songs I couldn't hear Billy Flynn. I am not sure if this was a sound issue or whether the band was playing too loud though. However, these were not big issues though and just my opinion as a humble theater goer and they certainly didnít ruin the show. We would have loved to have come back to see the show again, but unfortunately the show is sold out.

Once again, Rosewater put on a fantastic show that was well worth the price of admission and the drive from Alpharetta. I highly recommend dinner at Tams before the show too. We are looking forward to seeing Greater Tuna and whatever they have planned for next year. I hope they bring Chicago back!
And this review brought to you by.... by Jay Sherman
It seems there are a ton of new reviewers glowing over certain shows, and making just the right endorsements, even promoting future shows. This seems a bit coincidental to me.
Hmmmm by theaterislife
Jay...I have to agree with you. I saw the show and I'll post a review....I may still pop up as new but it's not the first review I've given.
Eh... by attheballet
Hmm...Interesting observation Jay! I'm new to Atlanta, but I've noticed that each company has its own following. I don't think that there is anything strange going on. I'm just pretty sure that friends and family of people who are regulars in these companies pop up here more than the people that just go around to see everything.
And All That Jazz!!
by Miss Rose Lee
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
My Husband and I went and saw Rosewater's Production of "Chicago" this past Saturday night. We had heard many different opinions about how the show was. From not being from the Cumming area, I didn't know what to expect with this show. But after we left, I found myself very pleased with what we saw! As an overview of the show, I felt that it was very well done and they had their moments of greatness and also some moments where a few kinks needed to be worked out still but being almost done with the run, I forgave that.

The set was very simple yet very effective. It did creat more enterences and exits but it did "wabble" a little as most flats do if to thin. But overall I loved the set. Very nice job and kudos to whoever painted those flats!

To Bob and the Orchestra, Fantastic!! The Orchestra, I have found, never gets the proper appreciation! You guys made that show! The trumpet player was dead on while the drummer and tuba player kept that great Jazz beat in my feet. The trombone and woodwind player were also great!!

To the director of the show, very well done! Chicago is such a hard show to stage and I appreciate the fact that you did not copy the movie so much. The Choreographer on the other hand I was not impressed with. Some of the numbers were great but I found myself very confused. Was she the choreographer from the movie because when I watched the movie with my husband, I found myself going.."this looks very familiar to what we saw on stage". I can understand if you have to take one or two moves, but more than half the show? That was one of the only drawbacks I had. Also when reading her bio, it seemed that she had some experience from Choreographing shows and I hope she didnt copy thos shows from the movies also.

Now on to the cast. Kudos to you all for a fantastic job!! You all had your shinning moments. Many characters stuck out but there were a few that really took me by suprised. Who knew Cumming could have such talent in that city?! I particularly loved was the character of Amos Hart played by Nicholas Morrett. I have never been so impressed before by a performer. He really had the heart and honestly that Amos is supposed to have. His voice was fantastic and he needs to be on broadway or at least be somewhere where he can show off his amazing talent! Along side him needs to be Lauren Jann. She was amazing as Velma Kelly!! I believed her and she was perfect for the part! The dancing and singing was great! Not pitchy at all! Kathy Russell, whom I am guessing is Bob Russell's wife, was also a stand out in the crowd! What a way to take a part and run with it! In the performances of Mama Morton I have seen, it's always an african american woman but she was great! She really gave that part a different flare and I loved it! Lisa Riley as roxie wouldn't have been my first choice because of the age factor but I found myself really enjoying her peformance! She seemed a little winded at the end of the Hot Honey Rag but I thought she did great! Billy Flinn couldnt have been more perfect! Daniel van Heil was great! So believeable! He took that character and really found the true Billy Flinn!! I found myself shocked when Mary Sunshine was played by a woman but Amanda Pickard was wonderful. A very different take on the character but I guess it's hard to find a counter-tenor in Cumming Georgia! I liked the way they masked her from a "whore" to reporter back to "whore". Very well played! As for the rest of the cast who played all the other parts great job! To Christopher Ryan Smith Great job on the Jury sequence!! Hillarious!!! All cell block girls were great!!

There were only a few critisisms for this production I would have. First of all, the only thing that annoyed me was that there weren't enough men! And I hated that because they do some of the best numbers in the show. Not saying that G.S.Riler, Andy Dahn, Christopher Smith and Tyler Kanady didn't do well, but I would have loved to seen at least 2 or more men. Also a big pet peeve of mine is when your are in the ensemble of a show, sing as an ensemble not a s a soloists. I found a few people sticking out sometimes and it was kind of annoying. Andy Dahn did a great job and has a beautiful voice but I think he stuck out a few times. Another critisism of mine were the costumes. Fortunatly most of the cast was in great shape and you all looked amazing but if you know that you are going to be in chicago, don't wear a see-thru shirt if you don't have the body for it. I would have taken care of that when you had the Costume Parade. The last one I have was the fact that they started almost 15 minutes late. It was partially due to the almost what seemed like 10 minute speech prior to the show. I would have much rather read it in the program. Keep it down to 2 minutes or maybe record it on a tape and play it because the introduction to the show by the one cast member was good enough!

Overall I gave the performance a 4.0 because I thought it was well done and it seemed that the vision of the show was acheived, Even though there were a few gliches along the way. I hope to see more outstanding shows at Rosewater Theater Company and I hope to see some of the fellow actors and actresses on Broadway or the next time I go to the Fox!! Congradulations! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
? by mooniemcmoonster
there are whores in chicago?
from the pit... by bbotzong
...the band thanks you :-)
What movie did you watch?? by petunia
I dont know what movie you watched but there isent one number that even resembles the choreography in the movie.
As a dancer I was actually most impressed by the unique choreography. And I don't believe there are any "whores" in Chicago!!
Opinions, opinions by Jay Sherman
How can someone get a great review like a 4.0 and still complain? If the woman found the dance "similar", she did. At least in her view. To someone else, it may not be. The aspects she was looking at may be different than the ones another looks at. By "Whore" she probably meant the scantily clad. Does it matter? She obviously liked the bit, and didn't mean it in a negative way. This site exists so that you can review the show from your viewpoint that is probably just as valid.
I'm confused by attheballet
I'm slightly intrigued by your observation of the choreography in this production. I saw it last weekend, and I never noticed that the choreography resembling the movie. In fact, my one gripe about the production was that the choreography was not true to the initial concepts of Bob Fosse. In my experience with Colleen Hargis, she has choreographed a lot of Fosse. None of it has resembled anything Fosse-eque or anything I've seen on film. Was there something specific from the film that you saw that is obvious?

PS There aren't enough men in theatre as it is. Have you noticed that the same males pop up on stages all across Atlanta?
2 cents by Jay Sherman
I'm a big fan of the movie. One of the reasons I try not to review this show. But-:"He had it Commin" looked extremely similar to the film.
Harrasing Choreogpraphy by Miss Rose Lee
I agree with the statement made about the Bob Fosse Choreography. most of the time the danceing is handed to you on a platter and I just didn't feel that she did the choreography justice that was all. I didn't mean to offend anyone or the choreography but to those who watch the movie, check out Cell Block Tango, take away the gentlemen in the movie and look what you have. Just an observation.
Making it a Blockbuster Night by attheballet
Hmmm, I never made that observation. Perhaps I shall review my copy of the movie and see. All in all, it was still a rather entertaining show. I just happen to be a purist for Fosse. A little part of me screams when I see high schools butcher Pippin!
by theatrebug2
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I saw Chicago by the Rosewater Theatre this weekend. The set was beautiful and the band did a superb job. The show was overall very well done and entertaining, Amos (Nicholas Morrett) and Mama Morton (Kathy Russell) were definitely the stand outs in this production. I also enjoyed the performance by A.L. Pickard as Little Miss Sunshine. She has a beautiful voice and added to the enjoyment of the show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
OD, keep your seat, I'll get this one... by BenAround
Ms.Pickard-Hardie played Mary Sunshine. Little Miss Sunshine is that great movie. (How did I do OD?) Ben A.

P.S. OK I gotta say this, since literally everyone who reads this review is thinking the same thing. So you thought Velma, Roxie and Billy did NOT stand out as much as Amos, Mama Morton and Mary Sunshine. To quote Arte Johnson from oldschool Laugh-In "Very interesting!" And still your rating is a 4.5.
Chicago in Cumming?
by juliebug
Saturday, September 15, 2007

As someone who keeps up with the comings and goings of the Cumming playhouse, I felt this was--by far--the best product that Rosewater has put forward in their tenure in Cumming. I felt that in casting, they found a jem in Lauren Jann, who began the show with an amazing performance of "All That Jazz". They were lucky to have found her. I felt that Lisa Riley handled Roxie with grace, although I felt the role was a big too big for her at times vocally and sometimes choreographically. I felt that the choreographer, Colleen Hargis, did a good job fitting the choreography to Riley, who is more of an "actor that moves well" as opposed to a "dancer". The choreography overall, I thought, was well-suited to the space constraints as well as the talent of the ensemble. Rather than having truly trained "dancers", they had a whole cast of "actors who moved well" and I thought Hargis did a brilliant job of tailoring the choreography to fit that. I felt the choreography could have been cleaned more--there were points at which the excecution was questionable due largely to chunks of dance that were not clean. It is a very big show, though, and I'm sure time was just an issue as the rehearsals wound down.

The highlight of the show for me was Nicholas Morrett as Amos...he was just brilliant. His vocals were flawless and I thought his characterization was right on point---innocent and shy and withdrawn but not to the point of over-simplifying the character. It had some real depth to it and I thought his choices were wonderful. As for the other lead roles: I thought "Mama" played by Kathy Russel was well executed, even though I felt she could have been a bit more "gritty". Russell is a great vocalist, though, and her and Jann's rendition of "Class" was excellent. Daniel Van Hiel as "Billy Flynn" was good--although he seemed a bit like nerves got the best of him for part of the performance when I was there. I felt, though, especially after reading his bio in the program, that he handled the role extremely well considering it was his first foray into a leading role. What a way to start!

Musically speaking, overall I felt the cast handled a difficult show with grace, but felt like there was a depth lacking in the vocals-particularly in the women's ensemble roles. The vocals felt shallow, which could certainly be in large part due to the immense amount of dancing they were trying to execute--I had the feeling that stamina was part of the problem.

While it was fantastic to see a large ensemble of talented musicians onstage for a show in Cumming, I definitely felt as though they were hindered due to the spacial constraints of the theater. It felt as though the band had to play so softly so as not to overpower the actors that there were some nasty notes hit just because the musicians were afraid to really let loose. As well they should have been since that space is just a big wooden open area where sound loves to bounce around. On the numbers like the Opening where no one was singing, the band was able to be a little freer and the difference was huge. Hopefully as the Cumming Playhouse grows, they will be able to invest a little more in the sound options for the space. The musicians, although clearly talented, also felt a little bound to their music--the show had some phasing problems between instruments that seemed largely in part to the musicians' having their heads burried in their music. I would have liked to have seen them have some more fun.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night of theater. I felt they handled the "censoring" of the show very well. I've seen the show uncut before and I noticed that they cleaned up quite a bit of the language, but they certainly made it work even without excessive language. They had some great "bits" and gags that really sold the show and the cast looked like they enjoyed themselves. Again, I felt it was the best piece I've seen from Rosewater thus far and while I still think there is room for improvement, it looks like they put together a directing team for this show that proved to have great ideas and a lot of talent at making good use of the talent and space that they had available to them. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
by RobynR
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Now, before I start this review I must say that I am slightly bias (which probably makes me a crummy critic, but hey, no one's perfect) because I had the privilege of spending time in rehearsals with the very talented cast of Chicago. That being said, on with the review:

I saw the Rosewater Theatre's production of Chicago opening weekend. The cast entered on a vintage car from the 1920's and entered the theatre completely in character and full of energy. Very nice indeed.

The overture started, and the dancers were full of energy and life. Everyone had a smile on their face and a complete look of accomplishment in every move that they made. As the show evolved into "All that Jazz" I was very pleased to see how everyone framed Lauren Jann (Velma Kelly) perfectly. Her vocals in the opening number, and throughout the entire show, were extremely clear and powerful. In fact, there were times when she brought me right where Velma was. She was not afraid to be vulnerable. She was not afraid to be "un-ladylike". Mrs. Lauren Jann was on fire, and I am more than lucky to have had time to work with such a great performer. Well done.

The crime scene following the opening number first introduced the audience to Nick Morrett (Amos Hart). I loved Nick's portrayal of Amos. He brought a presence of classic vaudeville to every scene he was in. He embraced the character and ran with it. Well done.

The "Cell Block Tango" was extremely well done. Congratulations to Lauren, Danielle, Lauren. Suzanne, Stefanie, and Kara for bringing six very vibrant characters to life with a single monologue and fiery choreography planted firmly by Colleen Hargis- Gaennsley. These ladies brought it all to the table in this number.

I can't say enough about Kathy Russell. Mama Morton was powerful, forgiving, and slick. Thank you so much for playing this role so gracefully! Even though Mama had her "naughty" moments she made me love her throughout the entire show. Incredible acting and amazing vocals. Well done.

Daniel VanHiel was terrific as Billy Flynn. I was very impressed with his vocals in "Reached for the Gun". I was also very shocked to find that this was his first leading role in a musical. He held his own and took the slimy nature of his character to the perfect level.

A.L. Pickard-Hardie was delightful as Mary Sunshine. Her comedic timing was wonderful, and I was also very impressed with her as a dancer in the ensemble. It's very nice to see such a talented and well-rounded performer.

I was also very impressed with "go to hell Kitty" (played by Alicia Gum Stratton). She brought the attitude to the table and didn't miss a beat.

The ensemble was filled with extreme talent. At times, I caught myself taking my eyes straight to them. The level of character development and dedication to the rehearsal of choreography and music showed. Andy Danh delivered more than a few beautiful tenor moments. Chris Smith created an ensemble of great characters in the court room, Tyler Kanady held an outstanding level of energy each and every time he was onstage, Adrienne Harris was filled with attitude and charisma, Cheryl Rogers and Valarie Wagoner delivered great performances as well. Very very VERY strong ensemble.

The Band, led by Mr. Bob Russell, was also wonderful. They did a wonderful job with a Kander and Ebb score that I hold so dearly to my heart and have such high expectations for. Hats off to the band.

Choreography was fantastic. I have worked with Ms. Gaennsley and I love her style. I love the way she incorporates acting and character into all of her dance. She motivates and strengthens her dancers. She put her own spin on a Fosse classic, and she succeeded. Bravo!

All in all the show was a success. The only critique I would give would have to be the "Hot Honey Rag". The number lacked a certain flare. It seemed a bit like the chemistry was being forced. Now, in all fairness this could have been because both ladies in the number were extremely tired by the time of this number, but it is one I always look forward to, and I felt a little let down by the climax. All the same... great night of theatre. The cast of the Rosewater Theatre's Production of Chicago should be very proud. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Curious by Jay Sherman
If the only problem with the show was a short number at the end, why a 3.5? Seems like with only one minor flaw your score would have been higher.
by Mandy03
She left out a few characters, maybe her score had something to do with that.
The criminal-as-celebrity
by Fred Shaw
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"Chicago the Musical" is a show not notable for any particular tune in its score. The original Broadway production with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and the Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse ran from 1975 to 1977-936 performances. The 1996 revival of the show, however, holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on record.

As of July 2007 there have been 4400 performances on Broadway and it garnered seven Tonys, more than any other revival in history. It has also been running in London's West End since 1997 and continues to this date. A 2002 film version won the Oscar for Best Picture.

You should ask me, if the tunes aren't memorable what makes "Chicago" the great show that it is? Take your pick. The story is interesting-filled with cynicism, greed, murder and sex. Its setting is a Chicago of the 1920's where jazz, illegal booze and crooks flourish.

It takes aim at the sensation-seeking press and lawyers. The dancing is exiting and athletic in the style of Bob Fosse. The tunes may not be memorable but the jazz rhythms are great. Finally the shows central theme is the criminal-as-celebrity, a theme we seem to be revisiting at this time.
The story is about two murderers, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. Velma shot her husband and the other half of her vaudevillian sister act when she found they were lovers. Chorus girl Roxie kills her lover then convinces her husband, Amos she shot a burglar. He confesses to the police then recants his testimony when he finds out the burglar's identity.

Both Roxie and Velma go to the Cook County Jail. A corrupt matron "Mama" Morton has a system of mutual aid ("When You're Good to Mama") and works with a crooked lawyer, Billy Flynn. ("All I Care About is Love") Velma and Roxie vie for the limelight, not only to get out of jail but to become famous and rich.

The Cumming Playhouse is not an old theatre as is The Holly in Dahlonega or The Canton Theatre but is in an old schoolhouse. The theatre is the old auditorium and has been refinished to perfection. The center isle which is at least fourteen feet wide with a hardwood floor is aesthetically pleasing, lends itself to a feeling of openness and facilitates easy access from the stage to the audience.

The Rosewater Theatre Company is comprised, in the most part, of people who are from the Cumming area. The cast, including the principal players, are local. The reasons for the success of the show can easily be drawn from the opening number, "All That Jazz". The stage is filled with dancers all active and energetic. The music is invigorating (This tune is memorable.)
Velma, played by Lauren Jann, leads the number. She seems to drive the chorus with her enthusiasm. Not only is her dancing exceptional but she has a voice to match-clear and true with great projection. I expected to hear her puffing by the end of this very active number but she kept her breath control to the end. She only gets to rest for one number when she appears along with Roxie and four other murderesses to do "The Cell Block Tango", another active dance number.

Roxie, played by Lisa Riley, sings the shows second number, "Funny Honey". Lisa, who is also the company's managing director, filled in for the original cast member who was to play Roxie. The original Roxie was injured. I didn't realize the full impact of this until Lisa and Lauren did the final number, a Charleston tempo that required a great deal of energy. Lisa performed more than admirably; she actually kept pace with Lauren, which is not an easy task. Lisa confessed after this opening night show that the eight weeks of rehearsal were grueling, but it was worth the effort.

A surprise in casting is the role of "Mama" Morton played by Kathy Russell. If you saw the movie Queen Latifah was "Mama" in this Sophie Tucker, Mae West type of character. Kathy is a slim version in a business suit but equally affective and sinister. Her version of "When You're good to Mama" where she goes into the audience to sing was well received. Her fine voice is also evident in a great, but smutty, duet with Velma called "Class". (This show is not really appropriate for children.)

Daniel VanHiel is a slick-looking Billy Flynn. He and Lisa do a great job on one of my favorite numbers in the show a ventriloquist act called "We Both Reached for the Gun" or "The Press Conference Rag"-Roxie, who in court must remain quiet, is the dummy and Billy, the smooth talking lawyer, pulls the strings. Daniel, surrounded by the chorus, also sang "All I Care about is Love" with sincere insincerity.

Another surprise was A.L. Pickard who is the do-gooder reporter, Little Miss Sunshine. Her operatic, soprano voice singing "A Little Bit of Good" is in contrast to the other voices in the show and was, I thought, very affective.

Nick Morrett, a senior at Kennesaw State, plays the dense and bumbling Amos, Roxie's husband. He doesn't get a chance to sing until the second act but then exhibits a good voice with great feeling in his only song "Mr. Cellophane".

Both Nancy and I had a great time for our first visit to The Cumming Playhouse and want to thank the cast and crew of "Chicago the Musical" for an enjoyable evening. We recommend you get your tickets and enjoy the show. We can also recommend Tam's Backstage Restaurant for dinner. It is in the same building at 101 School Street in Cumming.

Fred Shaw (Theatre Critic)
Smoke Signals on Line

Don't you mean Mary Sunshine? by Okely Dokely
Little Miss Sunshine was the name of that movie that should have won Best Picture.
Who says these tunes are not memorable? by BenAround
I was surprised to read the first line of your review that apparently quoted an earlier review regarding the show as "unnotable" for any particular tune. I disagree with that statement and I think you do too from your comments about the music. Reading different reviews here, several songs are mentioned and, IMHO, well known to the general public. (at least since the release of the movie version) What about "All That Jazz" for starters? What jazz dance class has NOT danced to that number, for Pete's sake? Also, you mentioned several extremely notable songs (When You're Good to Mama, Cell Block Tango or as most people call it "He Had it Coming", and Mr Cellophane) Add Roxie Hart, Nowadays, Class, and All I Care About is Love for actors using those as audition numbers and this score is about as well known as any. Not saying that YOU are wrong, just wondering where the original comment came from saying that these songs are not memorable...

My two cents, Ben
by Traveler
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
4.0 Cumming? I must admit that I didn't think this would go well, but I was very surprised. The music was first rate, hats off to Bob Russell. I think it made the show. Lauren Jann was very good as Velma Kelly and I thought Nicholas Morrett was very good as "Mr. Cellophane". The remainder of the cast all did an excellent job in support. All in all, an above average performance, very entertaining, and well worth the price of admission. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Chicago in Cumming?
by touchme1
Monday, September 10, 2007
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Chicago seemed a bit too risquť for this conservative community, but I caught it on a night with an audience that was hungering for bawdy humor. I must commend whoever made the edits to the show because it was still uncensored enough to get laughs yet it was well adapted for a community that is still rather conservative despite the city's rapid growth in recent years.

Lauren Jann as Velma was superb! Where did you find this woman? She seemed to have a quality that reminded me of Bebe Neuwirth from the 1996 Broadway Revival. Another great highlight was Nicholas Morrett. He looked a bit young for the role of Amos Hart, but his sense of comic timing and lovely voice more than made up for it. It was the very diverse ensemble that helped to carry the show. Made up from a mixed group of seasoned professionals to community theatre regulars, each individual seemed to contribute to the entire theatrical experience. The most memorable moment was perhaps the chorus up diapered babies in Act II.

I was rather shocked that both the producers of this company were in the production. Personally, it seems unethical to be both a producer, director, and actor. However, there were apparently some dire circumstances according to the program and an announcement before the show. You have to forgive the lackluster nature of G.S. Riley and Lisa Sherouse Riley in part since they jumped into the show as emergency replacements.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. The show is very entertaining. I think it is a huge step in bringing more "contraversial" material into a city like Cumming, GA. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Why is the show closing on a Friday? by Okely Dokely
I notice that not only this site but also Rosewater's site lists the closing date for this show as Friday, September 28th. That seems unusual to close a show on a Friday. What's up with that?
okely by mooniemcmoonster
I thought that closing the show on a Friday was a bit odd myself.
Closing on a Friday!? Complain to the Cumming Playhouse by jegoldston
The Cumming Playhouse is and has been run by the City of Cumming. They still don't know how to run a theater. They are stingy, proud, and completely unwilling to listen. Has anyone else mentioned on here that all the other companies have now gone from the Playhouse? Why? Because the City of Cumming has successfully run them all away by taking run-dates and giving them to one-night banjo boys and such...thus, taking away opportunity for any theatre company to make ticket money from their show...not to mention charging ridiculous prices for community theatre(that's dictated by the Playhouse too, btw). The Playhouse makes unreasonable requests of the companies and blames the companies for any faux pas (or bigger, if they can find it). They are mean and backstabbing people --the good ole boy network of Cumming. ...and this comes from someone whose family is native to the county. Such a disappointment for the arts of Forsyth County. The restaurant is also part of that "mean people" network. The whole lot of them are an utter disappointment to our art. Good theater (and theatre) in Forsyth County? Go to Forsyth Central High School. ... and it's cheaper! Ps, I didn't see the show, but I had several friends in it, so I'm sure it was great.
Good to know by BenAround
I appreciate the enlightenment, JG, which comes from an insider who knows what she is talking about. I know your company used to perform at that same venue. I had seen reviews on TR often in the past and I had wondered why you left. We theatre folk should not patronize the "mean spirited good ol boys" network in Cumming, but should find better places to perform and spend our theatre dollars. I will steer clear of this venue on all counts. Thanks, Ben
P.S. I wondered so many gave kudos to that restaurant. All is clear now.


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