Brassy, raunchy, sexy and packed with pace, with a dash of murder, corruption and greed, Chicago made a stunning return to Nottingham at the Royal Concert Hall this week, writes John Shawcroft
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