🌟 Chicago has just been announced as the latest show returning to London’s West End and I am SO HAPPY about it! To celebrate, this is a little reminiscing about the 2016 tour version – one of my all time top picks. 🌟
As one of Fosse’s most well known and well loved musicals, a night watching the national tour of Chicago was bound to be unforgettable. Iconic choreography combined with one of the catchiest scores in the musical theatre back catalogue immediately raises the expectations of the audience, but as the cast exploded onto the scene in the irrefutable opening it was clear the performance was going to be a sure fire hit.
Whilst the action of the plot excelled, for me the best (and unexpected) component was the placement of orchestra on centre stage. These indispensable parts of a musical are so often hidden away and under appreciated, but character interaction and a particularly fabulous entr’acte ensured this band remained at the front of the action.
come on babe, we’re gonna paint the town
Sophie Carmen Jones brought her A game as Velma, the sassy singer jailed for the double murder of her husband and sister. ‘All That Jazz’ remains a timeless showstopper, with the ensemble revelling in the Fosse – inspired choreography, but the lesser known ‘Can You Imagine’ provided a brilliant platform for Carmen Jones’ effortless voice (and some serious ladder skills). ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’ similarly provided a showcase of her dance ability, high kicks swinging with ease and the characterisation that drives the audience’s love of Velma seen in bucketloads.
Of the three ‘celebrity’ castings Hayley Tamaddon was clearly the strongest, her portrayal of Roxie strong, confident and excelling in solo numbers such as the ever-catchy ‘Me and My Baby’. Jessie Wallace competently filled the role of Mama Morton, but lacked the powerhouse vocals necessary to excel. John Partridge as Billy Flynn, on the other hand, was a disappointment. The audience needs to be taken on the same journey as Roxie in regards to Flynn, from imagined nice guy to the ruthless courtroom circus master. Partridge’s portrayal was one dimensional, offering the audience little to like about the character, and as some of my fellow theatre goers noticed even appeared drunk throughout a couple songs.
give ’em the old razzle dazzle
As a touring production the set was bound to be minimal, but the clever use of the orchestra as the backdrop and a few necessary chairs and prison bars were more than enough alongside the brilliance of the performance as a whole. Typical Fosse inspired costumes and makeup completed production’s overall sparkle.
Slick, stylish and full of razzle dazzle!