Last night, I cosied into the Cambridge Theatre for a dose of jazz hands, sex, shimmying and murder. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Chicago is one of the most famed shows in the west end. Don’t know the story? (Where have you been?)
Girl shoots lover, girl tries to get off for murder with her slippery lawyer, girl sings some songs in the middle, and everyone has a pretty great time (yep, despite the possibility of death row, they’re very ‘cup half full’). Well, that’s about the gist anyway. This is such a fun show. Camper than anything and a great piece of escapism.
So why go and see it now after years of running?
For the last couple of weeks, they’ve had a new lead playing Roxy Hart. Eastenders’ Emma Barton (she played Honey, remember?) is taking the role for the next 12 weeks, so I wanted to see if she’d stand up to the rest of the cast.
Unfortunately for Barton, the rest of the cast are stellar. The chorus are stunning. The band are perfect. Vivien Carter, playing Velma Kelly, is one of the best actresses I’ve seen on stage in recent years. Her command of the stage, and the rest of the cast was nothing short of fabulous. Whenever she was on stage, you noticed her. Even if she wasn’t doing anything. When she danced, you watched. When she sang, you were rooting for her. She was the star of the show for me. But the show is meant to be about Roxy, and I don’t feel like Barton did her justice. That said she’s only been doing it for a few weeks so let’s hope she finds her feet and takes Roxy on to another level.
The rest of the show was fabulous. Terence Maynard playing Billy Flynn was fantastic. Utterly charming, just enough intrigue. You’re always left wanting to know more about this character. I liked him a lot and thought all of the numbers he was involved in with were excellent. Razzle Dazzle was my favourite number of the whole show. That said, I felt like he threw away his final lines in a rush to get to the gag, but his performance really was excellent. I hope he’ll play this role for a long time to come – he’s nothing short of brilliant.
The little touches make the show extra fun. The interaction with the band’s conductor, the chorus chiming in with amusing lines (never have I seen a bunch of more talented boys). It’s the details that make this show fun and tie it all together. All That Jazz was a heck of a number to kick off with, and you realise that the cast isn’t just full of talented leads. The whole cast are good. Very good. I got the feeling the rest of the cast will all have lead roles somewhere else. Their timing was impeccable. I just wish Emma Barton had been better.
Chicago is fabulous I strongly recommend picking up some fantastically priced Chicago the Musical tickets from lastminute.com.
Flickr image from AndyRob‘s photostream.