Chicago at The Orchard Theatre
The Chicago UK tour has hit The Orchard Theatre in Dartford. I consider this sassy and sexy musical as being iconic, and I got the impression that the audience who were alive with energy before the show even started, would agree. The show focuses on Velma and Roxie, who are both hoping to turn their murder convictions into headlines, and then into stardom. The story of Roxie Hart has its origins in the real Chicago in the 1920s, when readers were fascinated by the stories of these somewhat glamorous women on murderess row.
It is Mamma Morton and Billy Flynn who are the key players in getting these murderesses the fame that they so desire, but everything comes as a price even if Flynn may argue that he does it for love. I was excited to hear that Russel Watson would be playing Billy Flynn, and his voice certainly did not disappoint. It had the strength required and he really did give it some welly. However, I felt as though he seemed to lack expression and chemistry with the other characters. It was clear to see that he was first and foremost a singer.
With this show being originally choreographed by the Bob Fosse, the expectation as to the execution of dancing is always set high, and I have to say that this cast still managed to exceed my expectations. The precision that came with every move was remarkable, whether it was from the main characters or the ensemble. A special mention has to go out to Djalenga Scott who plays Velma, who I can only describe as perfection. How she kept her vocals faultless whilst keeping her energy high in every dancing number I do not know. I did feel however, that because Djalenga was so strong, Roxie who is played by Faye Brookes, although excellent, seemed to be somewhat in her shadow.
I must make a special mention as well to Jamie Baughan, who played Amos Hart. I have never heard such big cheers for a character, and he seemed to be able to have the audience right in the palm of his hand.
I always love the fact that the band take centre stage in this show (something I must say I think should be done in more shows) and their energy was astounding. You could see the musical director, Andrew Hilton really having fun in interacting with the cast, and I really did appreciate his occasional shimmy!
Review by Georgina Leeson
Chicago is on at The Orchard Theatre until 23rd April. To find out more about Chicago and where else it is going on tour you can visit their website.