No, I haven’t been living under a rock, I have never seen ‘Chicago’ – the production nor the film! “How can that be?!” I have been questioned. I am not sure of the reason why, it’s just one of those I haven’t seen…until now.
I took my friend with me who is a self-confessed Chicago fan, it is her favourite, she can burst into verse at any moment (and she occasionally does), I needed someone with me who would be able to tell me if it was a good version or not.
Based on true events from the roaring 20’s, Chicago tells the story of wannabe star Roxie Hart (Hayley Tamaddon) and her extra-marital shenanigans see her locked up for murder along with fellow muderess Velma Kelly (Sophie Carmen-Jones). Fighting to stay off death row, they enlist suave lawyer Billy Flynn (John Partridge) to get them out of their predicament.
Taking our seats I fed off my companion’s excitement, I had a feeling this was going to be good. An announcement came over the speakers informing us that Jessie Wallace would not be in tonight’s show as Mama Morton, instead Ellie Mitchell would be taking on that role for the performance. A murmur of disappointment rumbled through the audience but then a clap and cheer for the understudy, realising she would have big shoes to fill.
On the stage was a simple chair and bowler hat…intriguing! Out came Go-To-Hell Kitty (Emily Warner) to tell us we were to expect a show packed with corruption, murder and sass…standard Monday night for us.
On came the opening bars of “All that Jazz”, sending a shiver of excitement down my spine, you couldn’t help but bop up and down – showbiz style – in your seat. Despite not seeing this musical, I know the song quite well.
Sophie Carmen-Jones belted out this number brilliantly. In fact, every number she sang throughout the show she gave her all and what a voice!
Hayley Tamaddon was brilliant as Roxie, injecting the right amount of sass and humour into a huge role. Her voice (which I didn’t know existed having only seen her on TV roles), was just lovely to listen to as she belted out the numbers. Whether she was singing alone or with other cast members, she had a powerful voice which filled the theatre.
When she played puppet to Billy Flynn’s puppeteer it was my personal favourite, a completely flawless performance by her…and John! What a double act!
John played Billy with such enthusiasm, his stage presence was amazing, the standout part for me was the cabaret style “All I Care About”, flanked by scantily clad girls armed with feather fans, it was a visual feast…I wanted to join them up there and dance with white feathers *googles “where to buy giant white feather fans”*.
It was a shame they had billed the press release as “Jessie Wallace to star in Chicago” and she wasn’t there, fans of Jessie were clearly disappointed. I have to say though, Ellie Mitchell (Jessie’s understudy), did an amazing job. She commanded the role and her voice was just wow! Ellie was definitely made for lead roles.
The whole show was just amazing from start to finish, you couldn’t help but smile all of the way through it, and sing along! The audience were clearly delighted, it’s not just a musical, it is a visual delight. You wanted to watch everyone on stage, every cast member, be them main character or ensemble, were as mesmerising as the next. The orchestra were amazing and literally took centre stage, I thought they would be moved back after the first number but they remained as part of the set and the cast danced and sang around them…and even included them!
They even treated us to their own performance of dancing delight.
The West End has been brought to Nottingham in the shape of Chicago and it’s amazing cast (whole cast!), if you haven’t already got tickets then go get some.
It is on until Saturday 20 August at the Royal Concert Hall. If you have tickets already, then enjoy it…I am most certain you will.