Inspired by the jazz music from the 20s, Chicago is a slick and saucy production that gives us an insight into the lives of the murderesses in the Cook County Jail.
The Olivier and Tony award winning show is the second-longest running show to grace the Broadway stage. With murder a hot topic in the papers, famous for killing both her husband and sister, Velma Kelly is the reigning queen of murder in the press. However after Roxie Hart murders the man she is having an affair with, her story triumphs as she is sent to jail and rises to fame.
John Kander and Fred Ebb’s beguiling score is timeless, with each number reflecting the sultriness of the choreography. The band are placed centre stage on numerous raised platforms as the music is the sole focus of the show, the action happens in and around them with much interaction with the conductor and musicians. Each musical number is animated and seductively smooth.
Bob Fosse’s choreography is utterly irresistible, every member of the ensemble are sharp, strong and captivatingly sexy. Which is highlighted in the iconic Cell Block Tango as the girls legs reach sky high with their eye contact with the audience never wavering that creates a powerful performance. Similarly, the men in Roxie are sublime as they frame Roxie Hart in her big number and connect with her through their suggestive movement.
Soap star Hayley Tamaddon takes to the stage as Roxie Hart and her performance is electric. She has the sweet and sour essences of Roxie, but as the play progresses and fame gets to Roxie’s head, Tamaddon’s interpretation of Roxie’s shallow hysteria is masterly. I’ll admit I usually roll my eyes when I hear of another celebrity starring in a musical, but Tamaddon’s performance is incredibly convincing and her characterisation is outstanding.
Starring alongside her is Sophie Carmen-Jones, a stunning dancer who was perfectly cast for the role of the ravishing Velma Kelly. Not only are her vocals remarkable which is accentuated in her duet Class, but her movement is encapsulating as each move creates such a commanding stage presence.
Another soap star that isn’t shy on the stage is John Partridge, who plays the highly sought after lawyer, Billy Flynn. He exudes confidence in his interpretation of the role, Partridge is vocally excellent which is showcased in his big number All I Care About Is Love in which he holds out on an impressively long note that has the audience’s jaws drop to the floor.
It being known that X Factor winner Sam Bailey used to work in a prison, she plays the formidable Matron Mama Morton. Although it is hard to step into the shoes of Queen Latifa, after starring as the role in the 2002 hit movie, however Sam Bailey does splendidly in her musical theatre debut. With her power-house vocals, she belts out the top notes of When You’re Good To Mama receiving an astounding applause from the audience.
Chicago is a lavish production with striking choreography and musical numbers that razzle dazzle.
On at the Wolverhampton Grand theatre until the 25th of June, tickets can be found here.