A Little Gray In Black Comedy

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Pickering teen earns dancing role in film product of “Chicago”.

News Advertiser – January 9, 2002
by Al Rivett

PICKERING – APickering teen never believed she had a serious shot at landing a dream role among several of Hollywood’s leading actors in a film project set to roll in Toronto this month.

The casting call for the film musical “Chicago”, starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and soul singer Mya, sought dancers in their 20’s. As a 16-year-old dancer, Brittany Gray thought she was a little too young to be vying for a coveted spot in the production.

Using her talent and perhaps a little luck to her best advantage, the dancer put her best foot forward to beat out literally hundreds of other aspirants to land a part in the film.

“I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. It’s everybody’s dream to be able to do what you love to do. I’m a step closer to being a great entertainer and it’s wonderful to be chosen for the role,” said Gray, a dancer at the Denise Lester Dance Academy in Pickering.

Gray admitted, however, when the auditions began last November, she didn’t hold out much hope.

“At the first audition they were calling for people 20 years and older. My mother didn’t want me to go because it was for older dancers and she didn’t think it would work out. I just wanted to go for the experience. I left there very much in awe of it. I didn’t know what would happen or if I would get the part,” she said.

A week later, she received a callback, which meant another two hours of performing in front of the movie’s casting people in a Toronto rehearsal hall. Two weeks later, she was informed she would be in the movie.
Since then, she has attended several rehearsals in downtown Toronto during November and December in advance of the film shoots in Toronto from Jan. 16 to 18.

The film, a black comedy based on a successful musical theatre production, tells the story of Roxie Hart, a chorus girl who murders her unfaithful husband, then manages not only to avoid prison with the help of razzle dazzle lawyer Billy Flynn, played by Gere in the movie, but uses the trial to propel herself to show biz stardom along with another murderous chorus girl, Velma Kelly.

In the film, Gray is among the dance troupe that performs a number called “Cell Block Tango”.

“It takes place in a jail cell and it’s basically Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger talking about how much they dislike their husbands. We’re (the dancers) with them as inmates,” said Gray.

During her time in rehearsal, Gray had the opportunity to meet all the cast members, including the stars. She noted they were genuine people and not typical Hollywood stars.

“It’s funny that they appear so different when they’re on stage, but off stage, they’re average people just doing their jobs. They were very down to earth. They didn’t seem into themselves; they were just doing their jobs,” she explained.

It’s been a whirlwind year of activity for Gray. In addition to landing the role in Chicago”, she finished her first season as a working dancer, performing in “Graveyard Shift” at Paramount Canada’s Wonderland this summer.

“It was a wonderful experience for me,” she said. “It was amazing to make people smile and to interact with the audiences. It was a good feeling.”

She also served as a backup dancer in two music videos by teen pop sensation Aaron Carter (younger brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys) this summer. One video was “Not Too Young But Not Too Old” and the other was “Leave It Up to Me”. Both were filmed in Toronto.

Although Gray isn’t sure when “Chicago” would make it’s big-screen debut, all signs point to a December 2002 release.