Chicago Brings 'All That Jazz' And Much More To Wimbledon

Review: Chicago at New Wimbledon Theatre

Based on a true story of women murderers in early 20th Century Chicago, the musical of the same name is much more upbeat than the theme would suggest; and how!

Interspersed with some introductions to the next part of the story, it is primarily told in song as one would expect and some of the more memorable are Cell Block Tango, Razzle Dazzle and Mister Cellophane but the show opens with the all time favourite 'All that Jazz' performed by Sophie Carmen-Jones, giving a energetic performance as Velma Kelly, and the company. Being a Fosse fan, I was impressed by how slick and tight the dancing was; the company certainly doing justice to Fosse's (as well as Ann Reinking's) wonderful choreography.

Hayley Tamaddon's personality shines through as Roxie Hart giving the role a cheeky, if not suggestive, feel and although I thought John Partridge's voice seemed a tad quiet in his introductory number as Billy Flynn, 'All I care about', his ability to hold a note got a deserved accolade from audience and cast alike. 

Londoner Sam Bailey has a strong voice as befits her role of Matron, A D Richardson gives memorable and operatic (not to mention surprising) performance as reporter Mary Sunshine and playing the put-upon husband Amos Hart, Neil Ditt evoked a lot of sympathy with the audience - he certainly wasn't invisible.

The rest of the company can only be complimented for their energy throughout the show - I felt exhausted just watching. And it is impossible to forget the band, part of the set as it were, and also an energetic bunch, notably the horn section!

Based in the prison where a number of women are awaiting trial for murder, the story is based around Roxie and her rivalry with Velma for the 'stardom' created by their trials and although Roxie shot her lover, the various methods used by the other women, as described in Cell Block Tango, would not go amiss in Midsummer Murders!

Enter Billy Flynn to a Busby Berkley-esque fanfare as the celebrated lawyer who agrees to take on Roxie's defence but taking Velma's trial date as well as her defence and therefore her notoriety.

In the end, there is always another murderer coming along who steals the limelight and, realising that celebrity is short lived, Roxie and Velma team up in the end to form a double act when their individual moments of fame quickly fade.

Therein lies the moral to that tale…

By Anne Horsburgh

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February 24, 2016

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Chicago is at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday