Chicago, Theatre Review. Empire Theatre, Liverpool.
Cast: Ali Bastian, Tupele Dorgu, Stefan Booth, Bernie Nolan, Jamie Baughan, Alex Wetherhill, Chloe Ames, Daniele Arbisi, Karen Aspinall, Nick Blair, Claire Rogers, Ian Oswald, Gregor Stewart, Kate Morris, Genevieve Nicole, Melanie Cripps, Jennifer Hilton, Adam Salter, Dominic Lamb, Ashley Rumble.
Chicago – the very whisper of intrigue, scandal, murder, vice and jazz that’s stalks this musical sets audiences into one of those wild surges of expectation which can make or break every performances. The bigger the expectation can lead to a much bigger and dramatic fall.
Chicago has long been considered one of the great musicals of the last 20 years, the set may be minimal in comparison to other stage productions that use the lavish and sumptuous to highlight how great the show is, the razzle, dazzle hard at work indeed. Chicago doesn’t require any of that, the outstanding music, the incredible dancing and show stopping numbers more than sell this play and with no need to turn the stage into a three ringed circus.
It is rare however for the male characters in this play to outshine their female counterparts. In Stefan Booth and Jamie Baughan who played lawyer Billy Flynn and helpless sap Amos Hart respectively were on stunning form and more than held their own against the strength and depth of singing of Bernie Nolan and Tupele Dorgu as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton and Velma Kelly. The musical normally frames the counterpoint between the two murderesses that are detained on murder row and their uneasy alliance as they battle between themselves to get off with their particular crime.
However it was the relationship between the corrupt lawyer and the husband that drew more attention and the scene which led to the classic song Mr. Cellophane was one of the finest outside of the film.
Chloe Ames as the innocent Hungarian Hunyak also deserves special mention as she held her own with the bigger names on the cast list, a delightful and enjoyable performance which had members of the audience captivated.
With two hours of excellent music and unforgettable songs such as All That Jazz, the phenomenal Cell Block Tango and the grandness of Razzle Dazzle, the audience were left reeling by how the play yet again stepped up to the plate and retained its stature yet again. A night out, that despite the male leads coming surprisingly to the fore, has all the hallmarks of being a top class act.
Ian D. Hall