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Quick: Picture Eddie George. He’s lowering his shoulder and trucking through middle linebackers with no regard; it’s 3-yards and a cloud of dust like the good old days; it’s him hoisting that highly coveted Heisman trophy high in the air with all of Buckeye nation rocking a number 27 jersey. Crowd chanting, EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! [...]
Mitch Hooper

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Quick: Picture Eddie George.

He’s lowering his shoulder and trucking through middle linebackers with no regard; it’s 3-yards and a cloud of dust like the good old days; it’s him hoisting that highly coveted Heisman trophy high in the air with all of Buckeye nation rocking a number 27 jersey. Crowd chanting, EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!

Now, you’ll be required to hold your applause until the end.

But after that cloud of dust settled and the football career came to an end, Eddie George found his ways to stay in the spotlight. George has found some TV spots with Guy Fieri and The Rock, and even secured a few roles in feature films such as The Game Plan and Into The Sun, but it’s the live stage where he’s truly been training this last decade, playing the lead in Othello and Julius Caesar at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Oh, and when he isn’t soaking up the camera lights in Hollywood or wherever else, you can find him working as a college professor, or as a financial advisor, or helping operate and run the small-business he owns. Yup, just like in football, it takes an army and a half to halt the versatile George.

Now with some experience under his belt, a few acting roles out of his way, and confidence building after a few years of theater roles in his adopted hometown of Nashville, George is ready to showcase his wide variety of talents in his newest role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of Chicago.

But before he and the cast take over the Palace Theatre February 6-11, we picked his brain about past roles, his current role, and how he can’t get the theater out of his head.

What has been your favorite show to be a part of? Working with every show I’ve been on is great. Working with Shooter or The Rock with Ballers, so far they all have been pretty interesting. I think each one was a different type of experience than the other. Not good or bad either, it just was what it was at the time.

If you had to choose between starting a reality TV show with either Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Guy Fieri, who would you choose and why? That’s tough because I don’t like reality television, so I’d probably lean more towards serious TV and working with The Rock. You know, he’s People Magazine’s Sexiest Man [Alive], he’s garnered a lot of attention, he’s the No. 1 actor of our time right now, box office-wise, and so yeah, I would definitely pick The Rock because there would be probably a lot of areas where you would see me on different platforms. So selfishly, I pick The Rock.

In Chicago, you play Billy Flynn, who is very much considered a villain in the play. How has it been switching personas from the beloved athlete to playing a smooth-talking con man? Some ways, Billy does play somewhat of a hero role. His demeanor and takes aren’t necessarily righteous or forthright—he’s sinister, he’s conniving, and he manipulates—but I think it comes from a genius thread. I guess it’s searching for the truth to why he does what he does. I hope it comes off as authentic and that’s what comes forward: the authentic parts of who he is—so when I’m in this world everything I do is justified, all my actions are justified with motive.

What’s been the most difficult thing about playing him? Is it, like you said, just trying to understand his mindset? The songs, for me. [Chuckles]. He’s very slippery, always thinking 5-6-7 steps ahead … you know, he’s a chess player. He knows the system, he’s been down this road, and he’s well-seasoned. So I think the challenging parts are trying to make it fresh. To not rely on the last performance or take it for granted. It’s constantly allowing the story to grow and evolve and be its own show versus other shows I’ve done. There’s always room for fresh moments or a different interpretation or perspective from what you see.

So have you tried to put a personal spin on Billy or have you tried to play it true to the original character? I try to do some personal things. You know, it’s my interpretation of some of the views. I definitely try to find those little nuances to create a totally different character than I ever knew. And that means really allowing that personality to come out times 10.

Have there been any songs that you just can’t get out of your head since the production started? Oh God, yes. And some of them aren’t my songs! [Chuckles] … I love doing “All I Care About Is Love.” It’s a grand entrance. It lets you know who I am. But, every song in Chicago is so good and so well-written. They are iconic songs, they have everlasted—they are timeless. Once you’re in musicals, you find things in songs, not even your own songs, that you love and [it] sticks with you.”

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Kate Morgan, 2D mixed media artist

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Kate Morgan began developing her ghostly, layered two-dimensional portraits after going back to school at the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005. She already had some background in visual arts through her work in fashion and commercial photography, so the transition to drawing and painting was organic.

Morgan’s textured collages are inspired by folklore, mythology and a variety of artistic periods — especially Byzantine art. The 2011 Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist alum and 2019 exhibiting artist welcomes a wide array of complex themes into her pieces — including symbolic, cultural, historical and spiritual themes — while utilizing layers of vintage paper and original drawings to create visual depth and a sense of mystery.

Her pieces are purposely vague, leaning toward more minimalistic ideas to allow for wider interpretation by audiences. Largely her art depicts the female form, with as many layers and stories to tell as that of every human being. This is done with an eclectic assortment of materials — including sheet music, German Biblical pages, newspaper and maps — to add detail in both a topical and textural sense.

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And yet, Morgan still continues to look for a challenge. From venturing away from her familiar blue hues to exploring different mediums like ceramics, her work knows no creative limits.

Morgan has exhibited at the Columbus Arts Festival nearly every year since 2011. She has gone on to win two jurors’ choice awards in the 2D category at the Columbus Arts Festival, as well as sell and have work juried at other major festivals across the country. In Columbus, her work can be seen as part of the Columbus Makes Art and Donatos Pizza collaborative mural “Every Piece Is Important” at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Morgan has a BFA from CCAD and currently works out of her Franklinton studio in Columbus. Experience this stunning work first hand when you visit her at booth M572 on the Main Street Bridge during the Columbus Arts Festival from June 7-9 at the downtown riverfront.

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Arts & Culture

Be Square: Changes coming to arts community at 400 W Rich

Mike Thomas

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If you haven’t visited the thriving arts community at 400 West Rich street in awhile, you might be surprised to see how much things have changed. Now, the minds behind the city’s hub for the arts are changing things up to better reflect the area’s evolution.

400 Square is the new collective moniker for the array of concepts that currently occupy the buildings on the 400 block of Rich street in Franklinton. The rebrand seeks to unify the community of artistic innovators who call the area developed by Urban Smart Growth their creative home.

Promo art for 400 Square by Anthony Damico

Spaces encompassed in the rebrand include Strongwater, The Vanderelli Room, and Chromedge Studios, and of course, the studios at 400 W. Rich. While the name may be changing, the group remains committed to providing and sustaining a thriving hub for creatives through education, resources, and entertainment opportunities in the area.

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With the launch of 400 Square, Urban Smart Growth Director of Operations Seth Stout has led his team to develop new offerings for each of the growing spaces. Food and Beverage Director Lauren Conrath and Events Director Molly Blundred have taken the lead with changes to the Strongwater brand, while Community Director Stephanie McGlone and Art Director AJ Vanderelli are facilitating programming for all ages and abilities on the artist side.

Through all of the changes on the way, the staff at 400 Square are committed to bringing the public the same high quality of workshops, events, exhibitions, and more that have always been part of their unique creative community.

Stay tuned for more info—the new 400 Square officially rolls out during the weekend of Columbus Arts Fest 2019, June 7-9.

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Cousin Simple to wow crowd with energy, passion

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As a young up-and-coming band, Cousin Simple is excited to play at this year’s Columbus Art’s Festival. In their two years as a band, they have already done a lot of really cool things, such as making a single with L.A. multi-platinum music producer David Kershenbaum, playing at Vans Warped Tour at Blossom Music Center, and selling out shows at the A&R Bar, the Basement and The Big Room Bar. But there is much more they want to accomplish including recording more music, making a music video and playing more shows in and out of Columbus.

The band members are all Columbus born and raised. Four members currently attend The Ohio State University, while their drummer Joel is finishing up his junior year at New Albany high School. Cousin Simple brings an energy and passion to the stage and gives everything they have to their performances, regardless of the crowd size. They just released a new single in February called Honeybee, available on iTunes and Spotify and have a single set to release May 10 titled “Star Destroyers.”

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Columbus is a great city for musicians. Whether you’re in the indie, rock, or hip hop scene, there are other musicians and music industry people willing to help you out. Columbus also takes a great sense of pride in its “local gems.” People love to see musicians who are doing well in their hometown and are willing to support them in many ways.

There are so many organizations that have taken this to heart and are helping bands get great opportunities. CD102.5, WCBE 90.5, PromoWest Productions and the Columbus Music Commission have helped Cousin Simple get airtime, shows and support. When it comes to music cities, Columbus may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there are so many bands and musicians doing exciting things it’s making the future bright for them and the Columbus music scene.

But Cousin Simple recognizes that none of this would be possible without the support of their family, friends and FANS that come to each and every show. They are humbled and motivated by their audiences who energize them to make every performance an experience their fans won’t forget. 

Cousin Simple will perform on the Big Local Music Stage on Rich Street on Friday night, June 7 at 7:45 p.m.

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