"Chicago"

National Theatre

Through Jan. 2

Tickets: 800/447-7400

This is the first Christmas Terrence McKinnley Clowe has spent at home in a long time -- and wouldn't you know, he has to work on Christmas Day. But it's not so bad, considering he'll be toiling under the spotlights at the National Theatre.

Clowe is an ensemble member in the musical "Chicago." You can't miss him: He's the one who can kick his knee up to his nose and balance a leggy redhead on his hip. This tour represents a special homecoming. The son of a Baptist minister, Clowe grew up in the Prince George's County town of Clinton, Md., and his parents, siblings and a grandmother are still in the area. One of these days, they'll also be in the theater, though Clowe's parents have already seen the production in other cities along the tour's route.

"I'm trying to deter them from seeing it again," he says. "It's not exactly something out of the Baptist church."

The wickedly satirical story drips with blood and greed -- it's a tale of feminine rage, murder and power, a convoluted search for love and attention, and all that jazz. Clowe sings and dances throughout, and in the second act has a small speaking part, peppered with irreverent language.

Luckily, his parents are the tolerant kind. While he says they weren't thrilled at first with his decision to be an actor, they have been supportive, all through the school plays at Bishop McNamara High School, the drama studies at New York University and dance lessons at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and the subsequent professional road shows, including "Miss Saigon," "The Buddy Holly Story" and "West Side Story."

"When I got parts they were happy," he says. "Right now they're ecstatic." And you can bet Clowe is, too.