Chicago

Chicago the musical is currently running at the Cambridge Theatre in London. I was lucky enough to go and see the show a few weeks ago. Having seen the film version many times and loving all the songs I was really excited about seeing it live on stage.

For those of you not familiar with the story of Chicago. One of the dancers sums it up just as the overture begins with the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery, all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.” We are taken back to Chicago in the 1920’s where the city is fuelled by jazz, liquor and murder! We meet Velma Kelly who is in prison awaiting trial for shooting her sister who she caught with her husband, she proclaims her innocence “I didn’t do it, but if I’d done, how could you tell me that I was wrong!” Then we meet Roxie Hart a chorus girl who dreams of the big time and has just shot her lover. The story continues with their fight to get freed from prison and to get the limelight on themselves and we meet Mama Morton the prison guard who looks after her girls and the suave and smart talking lawyer Billy Flynn.

The Cambridge Theatre is not as large or as grand as many of the other London theatres however it is still a nice theatre.
Chicago is a popular musical and over the years has attracted top names including Denise Van Outen, Marti Pellow, Jennifer Ellison, Jill Halfpenny and John Barrowman. I liked the fact that even now after the show running for a long time the cast is still full of people who I recognised. The role of Roxie Hart is played by Aoife Mulholland who will be known to many as “Irish Maria” a runner up from BBC1’s very popular How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria show.

Billy Flynn is played by Ian Kelsey who played Dave Glover in Emmerdale and Dr Patrick Sapiller in Casualty. He plays the character really well and comes across very smooth and is a good singer. I just heard today that from June 2009 Jerry Springer is going to be playing the role. Personally I can’t see how he will be in this role but who knows!

Mama Morton is played by Brenda Edwards who was a runner up on X-Factor in 2005. She has an amazing voice and a big personality and that really comes across in this role. Finally Amos Hart is played by Victor McGuire who has had a long running television career starring in many programmes from Bread to Brookside. He plays the character well and the audience feels sorry for the poor trodden upon husband!

The stage is not as impressive in terms of scenery as some of the other West End shows. This is a show that concentrates on entertaining through the music, singing and dancing rather than special effects or dramatic scenery. The scenery consists of a stepped stage which takes up much of the centre stage and houses the orchestra. It makes a nice change to be able to see the orchestra rather than them being hidden away down below. The other “scenery” consists of a ladder, some chairs and later a glittery curtain.

The dancers really are amazing, the routines perfect, mixing dancing with gymnastics all whilst wearing very sexy costumes. This is really a great show with some great comedy moments and lots of “razzle dazzle.”

The orchestra is great with a very enthusiastic conductor who also gets to say a few lines in the show too!

Chicago is a great musical, its non-stop singing and dancing with great performances. I really enjoyed it and was entertained from beginning to end. My husband sneaked out at the interval and bought me the soundtrack on CD and I have been enjoying the songs ever since, sadly the CD is of the original London cast and personally I thought the singing of the current cast is better than the originals! I would really recommend you go and see Chicago if you get the opportunity it really is a fantastic show.

The current cast are as follows –

Roxie Hart – Aoife Mulholland
Velma Kelly – Tiffany Graves
Billy Flynn – Ian Kelsey
Amos Hart – Victor McQuire
Mama Morton – Brenda Edwards

Tickets cost from 27.50 to 55