CHICAGO tours to 9 June.

CHICAGO: Lyrics – Fred Ebb, Music – John Kander, Book – Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Runs: 2h 30m, one interval
New Alexandra, Birmingham 5 – 10 March 2010
(Details till June 9th – use this link and push the Union Jack at the top for UK details)

Review: Alexandra Theatre, Rod Dungate 05 03 2012

Feel good and relax – you’re in bad hands!

CHICAGO has always struck me as a totally feel-good musical; it is, of course, feel good. With its raunchy tale of women killers in the 1920s and their fights for freedom (all tongue in cheek, naturally), its long list of catchy up-tempo numbers, and (in this tour at least) an array of sexy males and females, how could it not make you feel good? The company are strong singers and dancers – the dance, in particular, sharp and feisty. Gimme more ensemble.

Tupele Dorgu and Ali Bastian (Velma and Roxie) head up the company in fine style. In their different ways they both build a strong bond with us, drawing us with ease into their worlds. Dorgu certainly packs a punch – particularly effective in WHEN VELMA TAKES THE STAGE. Set against all this, Jamie Baughan’s simplicity is most effective – MR CELLOPHANE is minimal, proof that ‘less is sometimes more.’

Watching the show this time round, though, I have never been more strongly aware of the strength of the satire on American values; a level of meaning that gives the show greater depth. Stefan Booth is a charming Billy Flynn – never flash, his strong, matinee idolish good looks win you over. But his quietly ironic performance of RAZZLE DAZZLE holds the key to the show – while willing to reap the benefits of his society’s lack of real values, he seems to despise that lack too.

I just wonder why all the lighting is at such a low level though? The auditorium is gloomy to walk into, and much of the ensemble is lost during the show – all the company in black in low light is not a winning feature.

Go-to-Hell Kitty: Claire Rogers
Velma Kelly: Tupele Borgu
Roxie Hart: Ali Bastian
Fred Casely: Ian Oswald
Sergeant Fogarty: Gregor Stewart
Amos Hart: Jamie Baughan
Liz: Kate Morris
Annie: Genevieve Nicole
June: Melanie Cripps
Hunyak: Chloe Ames
Mona: Jennifer Hilton
Matron Mama Morton: Bernie Nolan
Billy Flynn: Stefan Booth
Mary Sunshine: Alex Weatherhill
The Jury: Adam Salter
Aaron: Dominic Lamb
Baliff: Daniele Arbisi
Martin Harrison: Ashey Rumble
McVickers: Nick Blair

Swings: Karen Aspinall, Matt Krzan

Choreography by: Ann Reinking
New York Production directed by: Walter Bobbie

Recreated by:
Choreography: Gary Chryst
Direction: Scott Faris

2012-03-06 14:50:11

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