Chicago at The Churchill Theatre

Chicago has hit Bromley and if the packed house was anything to go by, they were thrilled to have this musical in their home town. Chicago tells of the merry murderesses of Cook County Jail and in particular Roxie Hart who killed her lover as he was trying to leave her and Velma Kelly who murdered her husband and sister when she caught them doing the ‘spread-eagle’….not that she can recall it you understand!

The show stayed true to its roots with the original set by John Lee Beatty, with the band stationed on stage and the action weaving in and out of them. In the past I have been keen to see a new take on this show but this show was presented with such exceptional casting and polish I sat back to simply enjoy an established show performed well.

Often stunt casting can get a bad reputation and a soap star in the role of Roxie could raise some eyebrows however in the case of Faye Brookes my eyebrows were only raised in sheer delight. Brookes was the star of the show and played Roxie as cheeky, oozing with sexuality and manipulative. Whenever Brookes was on stage I was captivated by her, not only did she have the acting skills to pull off Roxie but also her dance was sublime – precise, polished and stuffed with character. It may have been hard to find a Velma to play alongside such a talent but they needn’t have worried in Djalenga Scott who pulled off the egotistical vaudeville star with aplomb. She captured the audiences attention from the very start with All That Jazz and retained it right through to the curtain call. I have seen Chicago more times than I can count and this has to be one of my favourite pairings.

It was not just Roxie and Velma however that were exceptional, Joel Montague as Amos and Darren Day as Billy Flynn played contrasting roles but were equal in their talent. Montague’s, Mr Cellophane got a huge cheer from the audience, no easy task when the rest of the numbers in the show are huge song and dance numbers. Day carried the role of Flynn well and perfectly encapsulated a fine balance between smooth and charismatic and ruthless lawyer. No cast is perfect however and Sinitta Malone as Mama Morton just didn’t live up to the rest of the cast. She lacked in gravitas as Mama and I found it hard to believe the she had the women of the jail doing her bidding.

Whilst the leads are all stars the real star of the show in Chicago is the choreography and how it is delivered by the ensemble. The highlights of the show had to be the moments where all the dancers were on stage performing iconic routines such as during All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle and We Both Reached For The Gun. The precision that these numbers were performed with really allowed me to appreciate how the smallest details, from an intake of breath to a finger click was thought about.

Velma sings in this show…What became of class…well Velma need look no further as class has been found right here in this production of Chicago.

Chicago is playing at the Churchill Theatre until Saturday 27th November and from there on it continues it’s tour. You can find out more and book tickets on their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Dirty Dancing, Six and Groan Ups – all of which are touring at the moment.

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