Chicago: the musical

When I heard this Kander and Ebb classic was going on tour and treading the boards in one of Dublin’s most beautiful theaters, I simply had to ramble around my friends and go! Apart from a few minor issues, overall the show was very enjoyable and didn’t disappoint.

The entire company and crew of the UK tour of Chicago put on a real spectacle of a show. Accompanied by a huge on stage orchestra which took some getting used to aesthetically but halfway through the first act it became part of the furniture. The orchestra almost acted as another character in the show which I’ve never scene done before, especially the conductor, he was full of life and added comic relief in spades, which at times was needed. The company was excellent, and at all times glistened in the light of Bob fosse. Even when they sat side of stage as there were no wings, you could see the company at all time. This was a minimalist production and if you’re headed here to see a show with all the bells and whistles you’re headed to the wrong place. But there is something beautiful in the simple; it allows the plot and characters to shine through.

The main take away from this production was two words SAM BAILEY. Like the popular Irish liquor she didn’t hold back, her performance against performers who Act as a main discipline before singing was truly outstanding. Her “when your good to mama” was by far the take away performance of the night. Sam was made to play Mama Morton, but I was left disappointed by the fact that there was only one solo in this show for her. I’ve never seen a full scale production of Chicago, which meant I was impressionable and Sam certainly did this. She follows a recurring trend of X factor stars treading the boards and doing it successfully. Is this a worrying trend? No! not if they keep turning out Alexandra Burkes, Leona Lewis who takes Nicole Scherzinger place in the CATS revival on Broadway with special mention to Shane ward on corrie! It wasn’t just Sam bailey’s house shaking singing ability but the acting performance was some of the finest I’ve seen, you’d swear she’s been doing it forever. Sam goes on solo tour next year {2017} and if her standout display on this production is anything to go by it’s a show not to be missed.( there’s no dates in ireland… internally crying) Mama appeared in dialogue throughout the show but I wanted to hear that voice. All my prayer where answered when Mama and Velma Kelly played by the very talented Sophie Carmen Jones performed ‘class’. The best version I’ve heard, the harmonies where crisp and almost edible. A funny song with true backbone and subject matter which still rings true forty-one years later, testament to Kander and Ebb, but shows how little society’s changed.

John Partridge was the surprise package of the lot. A triple treat with a powerful and commanding presence, his performance as billy Flynn left nothing to chance and I believed him. There was even a moment where ‘billy’ held a high note for what seemed like forever, he milked every second, and made me work on my breathing exercises on the way home. John exceeded all expectations as I never knew he was so talented, years of Eastender’s and a go at big brother had me convinced otherwise but I was gladly proven wrong. Also having learned later the money earned from his big brother stint was used to pay for his mother’s care makes john even more inspiring. {john on loose women}

Fellow soap start turned dancing on ice thriller Hayley Tamaddon portrayed Roxie heart as she should be, big, bold, selfish, dramatic and a Diva. Her voice may not be the best I’ve ever heard but she suited the role perfectly, a very strong performance.

Amos was not seen but heard loud and clear, Neil Ditt brought humor and comedy to the role, a clear audience favorite. ‘Mr. Cellophane’ was as good as I’ve seen or heard.

So what would I change…..

  • The ‘cell block tango’ having seen the all-male Broadway backward version here, I was left wanting more from this somewhat lack luster version. We know they can all dance but I just wanted them to show us what they really could do.
  • The death scene – was anti-climactic, a rope falling from the ceiling isn’t exactly an execution. But this was down to a production flaw.
  • I cautiously post this here, just for fun I’d love to see Roxie played by ms. jones and Velma by Hayley Tamaddon. But then again maybe not, im not a casting director!

Musical theatre royalty; Kander & Ebb, Bob fosse….. fell in love with ther work all over again.

This production get 4 stars ****

Below: my amazing and very talented Friends (and me)

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The UK tour of Chicago continues and further details can be found here

Chicago uk tour on Twitter

Bord Gais Energy Theatre 19th of May 2016.

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