Mayflower Theatre, Southampton – until 12 March 2016
I’ve seen many productions of Chicago, own the DVD of the infamous 2002 film and even pleaded “not guilty” in a production myself. So to say I was excited to see this tour hit my local theatre would be an understatement.
The stage is a simple picture framed setting, the main scenery being the on stage superb band which was tiered and gave the immediate feeling of being in a downtown 1920’s speakeasy in Chicago. All that Jazz, the opening number, gets the show off to a great start with the delightful, smouldering hot Sophie Carmen-Jones as murderess Velma Kelly.
Based on similar true events of the era of mobster run Chicago, this show tells the story of murdering wife Roxie Hart played by Hayley Tamaddon. Tamaddon shoots her lover as her husband Amos Hart (Neil Ditt) does not keep this stardom seeking, insatiable and bored housewife sufficiently entertained.
Tamaddon is Roxie through and through and completely captures both the character and sassiness so required. Her facial expressions were demonstrative and added a great dimension to the role. “Mama” Morton played with much feistiness by Sam Bailey was, as always, entertaining – although I did feel that the power we all know that she has in her voice was not truly allowed to come through at times being reserved. This might have been to make sure that her performance did not overshadow her co-stars but I feel they were equally matched and would have risen and met her should they have been allowed to.
Enter John Partridge as money grabbing Lawyer Billy Flynn. His poise, suave and charismatic portrayal did not disappoint. The ensemble oozed sex, sultriness and gave their all. The fosse styled choreography (Ann Reinking) was simply sublime and perfectly backed by the fun-loving band behind them. Songs including raunchy Cell Block Tango, Razzle Dazzle and Hot Honey Rag can’t fail to raise a smile or get your toe tapping along.
There was volume issues and an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, neither of which detracted from the immensely entertaining evening. So in summary, if want to see exquisitely executed choreography, devilishly dark, sexy and sultry performances then get yourself to the Mayflower Southampton this week or catch it when it’s in a town near you!
Chicago – Southampton until 12th March then continuing to tour
By Caroline Hanks-Farmer