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Quick Change Review: Chicago (Tour)


Murder is an art, and this is absolutely killer.

The current tour of Chicago is the ultimate glamorisation of seedy decadence and skewed moral compass. It’s risqué, it’s wry and it’s impossible to take your eyes off the performers.

Stepping into 1920s Chicago, you’d better buckle up those silver shoes and hold on to your hat as ironically, the Cook County Jail inmates take no prisoners.

Instead, they house the merry murderesses and turn them into celebrities.

Conjured up by the musical theatre talents of John Kander, Fred Ebb and legendary choreographer Bob Fosse, Chicago tells the story of a lonely nightclub dancer, Roxie Hart (Faye Brooks) who finds herself behind bars after shooting her ex-lover dead.

Here, she meets the murderess poster girl and acclaimed performer, Velma Kelly (Djalenga Scott) and puppet master matron, Mama Morton (Sinitta). The girls fight for representation from the state’s finest defence lawyer, Billy Flynn (Darren Day).

They’d rather be in the news than in a noose.

Roxie and Velma compete to be the most infamous criminal in the county, finding themselves in a game of cat and mouse with each other and the tabloids; led by the ever-sweet Mary Sunshine (Divina De Campo) who shocks the moment she delivers her high soprano and 4-octave range.

The tale is told as a cabaret circus and is physical theatre at its finest. Chicago’s ensemble is simply stellar. Seductive and sophisticated, the company showcase core strength and musicality to world class standard. Together, they tell a story of dishonesty in a style that relies on trust itself. They are poised and perfectly synchronised.

Brooks’ comedic timing in "We Both Reached For The Gun" alongside Darren Day is an absolute delight. The general farce of Amos Hart was delivered seamlessly by Joel Montague, and his rendition of "Mr Cellophane" rightfully received particular applause.

Never missing a beat of her athletic and daring choreography, Djalenga Scott’s Velma Kelly is curiously loveable with her vulnerability. Her naivety is endearing.

Andrew Hilton leads his stunning 10-piece band centre-stage and does a stellar job compering throughout the show. The sultry, jazz score is velvety and sensuous setting the perfect scene for rich vocals singing some of the most beloved musical theatre songs in history.

We’ve been served. Chicago is cunning and clever. The set design is minimal; relying only on bodies and instruments, and bodies as instruments, to tell a story that compares criminal justice to show business.

It’s a manipulation, a metaphor, a pantomime. Do your time. You won’t regret it.

Chicago plays in Nottingham at the Royal Concert Hall till 23rd October before continuing on tour.


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