Now lets get a couple of things straight. When I booked tickets to 'Chicago' many months ago the cast had yet to be announced. I'm not one of those people who go to see soap stars turned singers so, when a cast was announced containing three soap actors and a Nolan sister, I was a little sceptical to say the least. Secondly, other than a few YouTube clips and Saturday night TV musical montage's I have never seen 'Chicago' before. However, being a girl and being a lover of musicals and all things glam it seemed like a fabulous idea to go and see a musical billed as one of the all time sharpest, sexy and sassy shows around.
Based on real life events back in the Prohibition-era of the roaring 1920s, the story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the celebrity criminal. Nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoots her lover and along with Cell Block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, they fight to keep from death row with the help of a smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn.
On entering the theatre the stage was set with the signature singular black chair and black hat, an image even a Chicago novice such as I has seen before so when the show opens with Velma Kelly played by Tupele Dorgu (Coronation Street) performing the classic 'All That Jazz' I thought that would be the first and only song I would know from the show. Despite my initial reservations Tupele really did steal the show and by the end of the first number she'd shook off those Coronation Street cobbles in more ways than one. In the opening number alone the audience were treated to a mass of scantily clad, enviably toned bodies with chest busting bras and (ahem) very tight trousers but its not surprising they manage to maintain such physiques as the show is full of energentic dance routines with the talented cast barely stopping for breath between each number.
The set is as sparse as the costumes with the orchestra sharing the stage. There are few changes in the cast's costume throughout but, hey, you've already seen most of what they've got underneath anyway and as the show progresses you know what? it turns out you do know more than one song as the cast belt out numbers such as 'Cell Block Tango' and 'Razzle Dazzle'. The music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse. Ex Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastien makes a fine Roxie Hart though maybe not as sultry as Denise Van Outen's London performance, more along the lines of the Renée Zellweger film portrayal.
All in all the show is over two hours of glamour and all round entertainment which was appreciated by a nearly full to capacity mixed audience for the opening night of the week long run at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall. Other notable performances in the show are by Stefan Booth (EastEnders) as Velma's husband and Bernie Nolan as the corrupt matron Mama Morton.
So if you fancy a night of glitz glamour and all that jazz you won't do far wrong than catching 'Chicago' whilst it's in town.
Chicago runs at the Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 18 August 2012