Sunday, July 14

Chicago – Alexandra Theatre

Start the car and head on down to the Alexandra Theatre, where Chicago really is all that jazz.

The Tony award-winning, record-breaking hit musical has Fosse walked its way to Birmingham and it doesn’t disappoint.

Set in Chicago in the Jazz age, the musical is based on the 1926 play by Maurine Dallas Watkins. With the music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, and the book by Ebb and Bob Fosse.

The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the ‘celebrity criminal’. Set in the backdrop of 1920’s decadence Roxie Hart murders her lover after he threatens to walk out on her. To avoid conviction, she dupes the public and the media by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer, Billy Flynn, who will defend you for a high price, guilty or not.

The set is simplistic with a gold frame enclosing around the stage and the rest all black from there. However, it is striking and sophisticated, taking on the idea that less is more. The costumes are also all black in a variety of materials such as lace, fishnet, lycra, and sheer mesh. The only colour being a pair of sparkly silver shoes with rhinestones on them worn by both Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. And a pop of colour also comes from the sultry red lips all the female cast wear.

©Tristram Kenton

The music is instantly recognisable, and the show is incredibly led by the superb 10-piece band set centre stage. Arguably the band have a key role not just providing the music, as they react to what is happening on stage with even the conductor joining in on the action. The band played all the iconic songs from the musical and they’d have you dancing away in the aisles with the toe tapping hits such as “All That Jazz”, “Razzle Dazzle” and my personal favourite “Cell Block Tango”.

The ensemble really were a triple threat with the singing, dancing, and acting second to none, performing completely in sync. They were slick, charming, and sexy. They were on stage for much of the show, either performing a number or sitting and reacting to everything happening on stage, constantly in character.

Darren Day gave a brilliant performance as hot shot lawyer Billy Flynn. Whilst Faye Brookes really showcased her sublime acting talents as Roxie Hart. Djalenca Scott playing Velma Kelly, moved effortlessly across the floor. Sinitta delivered a wonderful performance as Mama Morton, really bringing the character to life. And a mention to Joel Montague who played the hopeless romantic Amos, husband of Roxie Hart. His performance of “Mister Cellophane” was simply brilliant and he captivated the audiences’ hearts with his comedic rendition.

Overall, this is a very alluring production, full of drama, sass, and an air of suspense. If you love all things 1920s, jazz hands and a dash of mystery then this is something for you.

Chicago continues at The Alexandra Birmingham until Saturday 29th January 2022,

Reviewer: Priya Gupta

Reviewed: 24th January 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★