book by Fred Ebb and John Kander lyrics by Fred Ebb music by John Kander. Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins.
Curve Rutland Street Cultural Quarter LE1 1SB To 18 January 2014.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Wed 2.15pm Sat 4pm.
Audio-described 17 Dec (+ Touch Tour 6pm), 4 Jan 4pm (+Touch Tour2.30pm).
BSL Signed 13 Dec.
Captioned 9 Jan.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 0116 242 3595.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 December.
Plenty of razzle, plenty of dazzle in it’s-all-show show.
Across four decades Fred Ebb and John Kander built showbiz into their musicals. Cabaret offset encroaching Fascism with the libertine escape-valve of Weimar entertainment; their final piece The Scottsboro Boys exposed injustice and racism in a piece structured like a Minstrel show.
Chicago (1975) turned murder into spectacle. Glamorous co-star killers Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart are based on 1920s Chicago women whose crimes of passion led to the same verdicts their stage versions enjoy.
Crime lifts them from obscurity to celebrity. Their anguish lies less with forthcoming verdicts than in each other’s publicity ratings – a focus encouraged by star-lawyer Billy Flynn’s focus on his brilliance as a courtroom performer. In a finely-written scene he shows the moral rug being pulled from beneath a jury’s feet.
David Leonard embodies suave confidence, unruffled even when Flynn’s hard-headed financial demands emerge from behind the smiles. ‘Razzle Dazzle them’ he aptly sings, a number where Kander’s steadily-paced tune and the gradual circling of Drew McOnie’s choreography gradually tie everything in knots.
It’s a world where even saying goodbye measures success in bursts of exit music, eliciting a final burst of applause. Roxy’s quietly decent husband, whose name Flynn mistakes in an Amos ‘n’ Andy confusion, until he needs to get it right in court, has only a quiet number admitting his invisibility; Mr Cellophane. In a world defined by what’s on the wrapper, he’s invisible, his call for exit music met only by silence.
Set against very little but prison-bars across the stage, Paul Kerryson’s revival brings huge pzazz to the razzle-dazzle, though there’s a tendency for details to become blanked-out in the deliberate self-consciousness of the playing across the board.
Verity Rushworth’s Velma makes clear the sexual connotations of ‘jazz’ in the opening number and is keen to make a killing in public from her private murder. She’s a hard-bitten careerist though-and-through, while Gemma Sutton’s Rosie is clearly new to the career possibilities, learning to cover granite underlay with a sucrose surface.
A bit like Chicago itself – a brassy series of climaxes making the jailhouse rock through Christmas and New Year.
Velma Kelly: Verity Rushworth.
Roxie Hart: Gemma Sutton.
Fred Casely: Jonny Godbold.
Sergeant Fogarty: Callum Train.
Amos Hart: Matthew Barrow.
Liz: Katy Hards.
Annie: Lucinda Lawrence.
June: Jessica Kirton.
Hunyak: Anabel Kutay.
Mona: Zizi Strallen.
Mama Morton: Sandra Marvin.
Billy Flynn: David Leonard.
Tailor: Jon Reynolds.
Mary Sunshine: Adam Bailey.
Go To Hell Kitty: Michelle Andrews.
Doctor: Simon Hardwick.
Photographer: Jocasta Almgill.
Aaron: Ashley Andrews.
Judge: Fela Lufadeju.
Court Clerk: Harry Francis.
Director: Paul Kerryson.
Designer: Al Parkinson.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound: Ben Harrison.
Musical Director: Ben Atkinson.
Choreographer: Drew McOnie.
Dance captain: Luinda Lawrence.