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Eddie George At Center Stage
Former NFL star embraces the role of Billy Flynn in the award-winning musical Chicago
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​Ross’ (David Schwimmer) girlfriend on “Friends.” During seven episodes on the show, Tom was kind of a lightning rod for fans of the show, some who didn’t like the fact that she had taken Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) place in Ross’ heart. “Fans still get angry about that,” she says. “There was a live audience [during filming of the show], and they would boo me when I came on because they really wanted Ross to be with Rachel.”
   Not to be discouraged, Tom moved on and exhibited even more of her talents, using her voice in popular animated series such as "Futurama," "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness," "Pound Puppies," "Teacher’s Pet," "Batman Beyond" and "Mulan 2." 
   Now, it’s all about Andi Mack, the much talked-about series, where Andi, played by 13-year-old Peyton Elizabeth Lee, was abandoned by her teenaged mother. Enter Lauren Tom as Celia Mack, Andi’s grandmother who made her believe that she and Andi’s grandfather were her parents––and her real mom was her sister.
   There will be more to this continuing story when Andi Mack returns to the Disney Channel on Mondays in June.
Photography courtesy of Disney Channel
–– Walter Leavy
Photograph by Liz Lauren
   IF you’ve won the 1995 Heisman Trophy and later established yourself as one of the National Football League’s best running backs by the time the sports career ends, what do you do for an encore? If you’re Eddie George, you make your mark on the Broadway stage. 
  But before making it to Broadway, the Tennessee Titans’ all-time leading rusher was serious about being the best he possibly could be, dedicating himself to a grueling routine––acting classes two times a week, dance lessons, singing lessons and regular trips to New York to see performances by established stars such as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman and Jude Law in Hamlet.
  The results of the former Ohio State University star’s dedication and sustained effort will be displayed on the Cadillac Palace Theatre stage May 7 through May 12 when George joins the national tour in the Tony Award-winning musical Chicago. After a successful limited engagement at the Ambassador Theatre on Broadway in 2016, the former NFL Pro-Bowler again steps into the role of Billy Flynn, the charming, slick-talking and persuasive defense attorney at the center of the show.
   Chicago, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, is set during the Roaring Twenties, characterized by mass consumerism, Prohibition, a heightened popularity of jazz and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance. The story, which includes notable songs such as “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle,” focuses on Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who hires Flynn after the murder of her lover who threatens to leave her. The city’s best criminal lawyer, in his inimitable way, works his magic to transform his client through the media. 
   Before reaching the Broadway stage, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound George, striking in a tuxedo and bow tie, appeared in a variety of theater presentations, including Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man  (Nashville Repertory Theatre) Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog (Amun Ra Theatre) and in the title roles of both Othello and Julius Caesar at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. The Philadelphia native also made TV and film appearances, and worked as a network sports commentator before his major breakthrough on the stage.
   After taking careful steps to the top, George is finally comfortable on stage following the transition from football. He retired from the NFL in 2005 after eight years with the Titans and one with the Dallas Cowboys. He later involved himself in some business ventures, including a landscaping and design company. So why did he decide on acting? Perhaps he found several similarities between football and the stage––working with teammates, participating in a live performance and facing the pressure to perform in front of a critical audience. However, George says his decision to pursue acting is simple: “I fell in love with the art of storytelling. The stage is my place of peace.”
––Walter Leavy
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Former NFL star Eddie George as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago.