Note: This review is for the 2022 UK Tour
The last time I saw Chicago on stage was on the West End about fifteen years ago. I have vague memories of enjoying it but nothing of note stands out, so I was looking forward to seeing it again.
With multiple Broadway and West End revivals, tours and a 2002 Hollywood film starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, multi-award winning Chicago is one of the most revered and well-known musicals in history. Set in 1926, Chicago tells the story of Roxy Hart (Faye Brooks), who faces trial for murder after killing her lover. To avoid an almost-certain conviction and death sentence she hires charismatic lawyer Billy Flynn (Darren Day), who concocts a sensationalist storyline to dupe the public, the tabloids, her rival cellmate Velma Kelly (Djalenga Scott) and downtrodden husband Amos (Joel Montague).
Faye Brooks shines in the role of Roxie. One minute sweet and demure, the next self-centred and egotistical, Brooks moves from one to the other as she manipulates everyone around her, with great vocals and a complete command of the stage. And while the majority of the story is focused on Roxie, Scott excels in a phenomenal performance of murderous Velma Kelly. Scott has power in everything that she does, from belting out “All That Jazz” to incredible dance sequences – even sitting on a chair is done with vigour. Pairing the two makes for theatre magic.
Sinitta and Darren Day gave competent performances in their vocal roles of Mama Morton and Billy Flynn, but both lacked a bit of the spark and sass that are synonymous with their characters.
Joel Montague delivered an emotive performance in the role of Amos, singing “Mr Cellophane” with incredible poignancy.
Chicago is different in that there is very little in terms of set and props. The majority of the stage is filled with the conductor and musicians, and there is just the use of some chairs, a ladder on each side, a lighting rig and some rather large burlesque feathers.
And yet, it works.
As is to be expected, the choreography and dance sequences were sultry, sexy and delivered with absolute precision by the whole cast. The production is fairly slick, with impressive timing and choreography in the big numbers. There was a slight technical error in the second half which caused the performance to be halted for a few minutes, but this didn’t take anything away from the overall show.
Chicago brings plenty of razzle dazzle to the stage – something that I think all of us need right now. Chicago will be on stage at The Alexandra Theatre from Mon 24th January – Sat 29th January. Purchase your tickets here!