chicago

Culturebean at | Chicago the Musical (Touring) | Alhambra Bradford

“Welcome. Ladies and gentleman you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery—all those things we all hold near and dear to our hearts.”
(the powerful and truly revealing opening line)

One of my faves

This is one of my favourite musicals, so no pressure guys… Thankfully I was not let down by this touring production – in fact I was pleasantly surprised!

The musical is set in 1920’s Chicago – who’d have guessed it?  It closely follows two murdering vixens, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. Both whom desperately crave and fight for the media’s attention. They are ushered along by a smooth yet sleazy lawyer who is no stranger to the paparazzi lifestyle; with a name like, Billy Flynn, I’m not surprised.

It hit me

The first thing that hit me when the curtains opened, was the orchestra placed smack bang in the middle of the set! This is highly unusual as they are normally hidden away in a dark place under the stage – so I was excited to see what a difference this would make. The answer; a great one!

The visible band created a sense of inclusion on the audiences part. I honestly felt like I’d gone for a drink in a dodgy yet intriguing jazz club. Enjoying the smoky atmosphere with a couple hundred other visitors. The band and the characters were fully aware of our presence, who made sure we followed their crime filled story. The orchestra were far from a hindrance as they became apart of the stage, where choreography and scenes were blended into the tier band stands; definitely utilising all of the available space on set.

Differences

So, I inevitably started comparing this stage version to the film version of ‘Chicago’ starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere. I know, I know. I shouldn’t, as they’re two completely different mediums, it would be unfair to do such a thing… but I have to at least acknowledge them. There were the obvious cinematography differences and lack of A-Listers but the stage version was a welcome change for these simple reasons:

1) Watching the ‘bob fosse’ themed choreography live, executed with excruciating precision was incredible.
2) It had a darker, slower paced and sexier feel – much more appropriate to the storyline.
3) Hearing the songs performed live by actors with impressive vocal skills always trumps pre-recorded versions.
4) Being a part of the live, jazz infused, underground bar (secretly a theatre) is not to be missed.

Actors

Ali Bastian combined a playful and naive Roxy with the seductive bite of a fierce lady. Perfection. Tupele Dorgu gave a fresh boost to the character of Velma, updating her to the 21st century. I have to give her credit for her high stamina as she powered through her many physically tough numbers and big ballads. Stefan Booth simply melted on stage as he played a smooth and manipulative Billy Flynn. He was quietly commanding which secretly screamed powerful. Finally I give a massive round of applause to the ensemble, as without them, it would not have been anywhere near as impressive. Ensemble you are unbelievably talented – I would class you the stars of Chicago.

This musical is guilty of murder and it is also charged on the account of being too dirty, devious and sexy. A combination not welcomed in reality, but sneaking away for a night of fantasy does no harm… right?

Could you ‘literally’ get away with murder?

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