Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Review by David Bithell - A View To A Kiln / Radio Kiln
“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts” So begins the international multi-award-winning musical, CHICAGO.
Two hours of wonderful choreography and fantastic vocals left the audience at the Regent Theatre Hanley singing All That Jazz way into the night. Having never seen the film, I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Set in the US city of Chicago during the 1920s Jazz era – a hotbed of music and vibrancy – the story follows Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who are both facing trial for murder.
However the pair seem more concerned with their selfish hunger fame and public image than their life and death situation.
Neither character has any sense of morality as they guide their way through the media frenzy – desperately clutching on to every last bit of attention.
Faye Brookes (Roxie Hart) and Djalenga Scott (Velma Kelly) make the perfect dangerous duo in the touring production, with Djalenga producing a stunning performance as the sultry, double-murderess Velma Kelly.
Her fantastic stage presence, together with strong vocal ability and super high kicks, made for an all round display. Alongside her cellmate and fame hungry rival, Roxie Hart, the two complemented each other on stage.
Faye’s portrayal of Hart’s character is youthful, vibrant and needs to be adored. Not only does she capture the hearts of the jury, the media, and her husband Amos, but she grabbed hold of the Regent’s audience too.
They clung and grabbed on to her every word and movement, particularly during her monologue at the beginning of the solo number Roxie.
The whole cast were excellent too, with a dynamic togetherness. The movements and dancing were on point, including during some of the more difficult tricks and lifts.
As well as Brookes and Scott’s performances, the amazing vocal abilities of Sheila Ferguson and Russell Watson stood out for me. Both pitch perfect.
I did also enjoy Jamie Baughan’s character Amos, and his performance of Mr Cellophane - in which he explains how he is "invisible, insignificant" - appeared to gather this drew a great deal of sympathy from the Regent crowd.
Russell Watson also commanded the stage in his role as the silver-tongued, knight in shining armour of the courtroom, Mr Billy Flynn.
The extra bit of quality I also enjoyed was having the live band present on-stage throughout the performance which added value to the storyline.
The jazz sound complemented the wickedness and decadence of the on-stage tale and they quickly became the heart of the piece, remaining on-stage until the very end to play the audience out as they left the auditorium.
With its sexy, seductiveness and show-stopping scores, Chicago is definitely one of the best musicals around. If you haven't seen it already, you absolutely must.
Chicago runs at the Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday 19th March.
For tickets go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/chicago/regent-theatre/ or by calling the box office on 0844 871 7615