It is easy to slip back into the sleazy streets of the Capone era and the St Valentine’s Day Massacre in this fast-moving production.
The story of Roxie Hart, on trial for the murder of her lover and defended by smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, is simple enough.
But Roxie and her fellow inmate Velma Kelly have an eye on stardom and with Billy’s help the allegations are used as a way of achieving their aim. And those lovely long legs and high-stepping dance routines do their cause no harm at all.
It all adds up to a feast of music and dance, with magnificent choreography across a bare stage. The 20 production numbers – All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle, Me and My Baby and Class etc. - are backed by a splendid band.
John Partridge, best-known for EastEnders but with plenty of background in musical theatre, excels as Billy. Here is a brief who can wrap the press around his little finger and gain an acquittal, all for a price, of course.
But the standout performances belonged to Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie and Sophie Carmen-Jones’s Velma.
Ellie Mitchell, understudying Jessie Wallace on press night, was ideally cast as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton and there must be a mention, too, for Neil Diff as Amos Hart, Roxie’s bland and long-suffering husband. His Mister Cellophane says it all.
Photo by Catherine Ashmore