Chicago – New Wimbledon Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Book: Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse

Lyrics: Fred Ebb

Music: John Kander

Chicago has long been a staple show on Broadway and the West End, and for good reason. The glitz and glamour, mixed in with the criminal underworld of 1920s Chicago makes it a captivating watch, both for the juicy storyline and the sultry dance numbers.

The story follows Roxie Hart (Faye Brookes), thrown into jail after shooting her lover in cold blood and trying to frame her devoted husband. After enlisting hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (Russell Watson) to try and manipulate the jury into believing her innocence, she becomes enthralled with the fame and notoriety that being Chicago’s most sought-after criminal brings.

The choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, is mesmerising, single-handedly dominating the show with its synchronised sophistication. Each dance number is methodically performed, seducing the audience with every high kick and cabaret shimmy. The supporting cast keep the energy flowing throughout each scene with the We Both Reached For The Gun and All I Care About routines being two of the main knockouts of the evening.

Showcasing the live orchestra in such a prominent central spot on the stage is a fantastic way to give credit to the beating heart of a musical that is normally hidden in the background. The score really transports the audience to a 1920’s cabaret speakeasy and celebrates the talented musicians.

Visually, at points the show is a little lacklustre, almost as though the long running show is starting to lose its very own razzle dazzle. There are so many opportunities where some more sparkle or production magic could be added into the first half to bring a bit more pizazz to the show. While the choreography rightfully commands the attention, it would still be a good addition to spruce up parts of the set design to elevate the performance.

The cast works well both singularly and together, each member glowing in their popular roles. Djalenga Scott playing Velma Kelly is seductive and sassy, shining as the embittered forgotten-about star of the cells, overlooked when Hart arrives and steals her thunder. Faye Brookes is brilliant as the manipulative Roxie, subtly portraying her mischievous ways with as little as a smirk or hair-toss. Russell Watson’s vocals are impressive, belting out each note with ease and composure while he saunters across the stage as the sleazy lawyer. Mama Morton played by Sheila Ferguson, and Mary Sunshine played by B E Wong are both comic performances that incorporate their magnificent singing voices well.

47 years after the shows first debut on stage, it still deserves its accolade as one of the most popular productions on the circuit with this sexy, sassy, stand-out, showstopper.

Runs until 21 May 2022 then continues to tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Synchronised Sophistication

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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