Chicago The Musical – Phoenix Theatre Booking until 5th January 2019
Review Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Chicago is in my top ten favourite musicals and to say I’ve seen it many more times than other shows, would be true. It’s always interesting to have a revisit and to see how different key cast members will affect a production.
CHICAGO, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The 1996 Broadway revival of CHICAGO was choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, and produced by Barry and Fran Weissler.
The story illustrates lust, greed, notoriety, and a hunger for fame, amongst other themes.
Photo Credit ©Tristram Kenton
It’s always a worry that with such a specifically stylised show that any changes could dramatically affect it. That argument can also be used in reverse if you don’t change anything, it could appear stale rather than fresh. Thankfully I’d prefer to have no great surprises and to know exactly what I’m going to see. This production has been subtly freshened but for someone who is seeing it for the first time it has all the sass and sexiness you want.
Which can also be said for the cast. Laura Tyrer delivers Velma with fresh power and uber sex appeal. It feels at times like she is acting as if it’s her last day on earth. The fact that she has been cast whilst Denise Van Outen recovers from an injury, means that her time in this leading role is short. I can’t help but feel it should be longer, it really is a tremendous performance, her voice oozes class, her acting demonstrates a hunger to seize this opportunity, with a defiant power.
Alexandra Burke as Roxie, demonstrates why she really is at home on the West End stage. What you see here is a complete understanding of the role, talent and fun. I was reminded how funny this show could be with some quick-witted lines delivered with panache none more so than from Mazz Murray. Murray’s Mama Morton was played with style and maturity which can only be delivered through experience. You certainly saw added depth to the character, with vocals as always a powerhouse of strength.
Photo credit Matt Crockett
Long-suffering ‘cellophane’ husband Amos was charmingly played by Paul Rider and there were some scene stealing moments from A D Richardson as Mary Sunshine. Ann Reinking once again ensures that execution of the original Fosse choreography is perfect and never ceases to delight me. The hugely talented ensemble were instrumental to this and were en point throughout. Its 13 piece orchestra under the entertaining Musical Direction of Ian Townsend was an absolute joy bringing the jazz element really to the forefront.
Photo credit Simon Turtle
Duncan James gave us a charismatic performance. His singing strong, but it was his devilishly wicked side that really pulled through to me. You definitely felt Billy was only in it for himself and was merciless in his offer to help for $5000.
The ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and sparkling performances made me leave with a firm smile on my face. It would be simply criminal to miss this production, so you know what to do don’t you – book those tickets and ‘all that jazz’……!
110 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0JP
Box Office: 0844 871 7629 / www.atgtickets.com/shows/chicago/phoenix-theatre
Ticket Prices: From £20.00
Performances: Monday-Saturday 8pm, Wednesday & Saturday 3pm
Booking Period: Currently Booking Until 5th January 2019
Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (with interval)