Chicago at the Theatre Royal – review by Jak Martin
Bob Fosse’s stunningly sultry show comes to Norwich bringing ‘murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts’ with it! The audience were not left disappointed with this slick and sexy powerhouse of show.
Each and every person on stage (including the band) oozed charisma and charm, inviting us into the story of Roxie Hart; a night club singer who kills her lover. Set in the roaring twenties, this story of murder, jealousy and fame is sure to entertain. Matched with an epic jazz score, you are instantly thrusted back to the ‘razzle dazzle’ of Chicago in the 1920s.
The set consisted of a huge gold frame around the proscenium arch, framing the performance like the piece of artwork it is. On stage a large raked square presented the band, making you feel as if you were in the hottest jazz club in Chicago. Either side of this, the iconic rows of bentwood chairs, allowing cast to sit during the performance and watch the action unfold. Tall ladders appeared stage left and stage right during the performance adding quirky levels and visual interest. The lights caressed the performance with sexy golds and oranges, with the occasional use of colours such as purple and red. This really enhanced every aspect of the show, creating stunning silhouettes and shadows. The seductive costumes did not disappoint either, the women looked incredible in sultry black lingerie and the men served Fosse realness in tight black trousers and famous bowler hats.
From the very first note, you cannot help but be in awe of the incredibly sophisticated style of Chicago. The dances were perfect, the ensemble excelled and added character, sex and charm to every movement. Perfectly executing the stylised actions and creating the most aesthetically pleasing show I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Hayley Tammadon played Roxie Hart in a fun and quirky way, reminding me a lot of Jane Horrocks’ performance in the revival of Cabaret (another of Kander and Ebbs well known shows also directed by Fosse). Jessie Wallace shocked me with her charming and feisty portrayal as Matron Morton. ‘When You’re Good to Mama’ was perfect. John Partridge delivered a solid performance as the smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn.
A huge part of the show is the band, and they did not disappoint – they brought energy and fun into every number and buckets of character. A pleasure to watch and listen to.
Overall, I can easily say – with no hesitation- that this was one of my favourite shows I’ve had the pleasure to see. It was seductively flawless in every way and I could easily watch it 100 times over. The stunning cast, set, band and book truly brought ALL that jazz to Norwich Theatre Royal.
Chicago, Monday 31 October-Saturday 5 November at 7.30pm, and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets £8-£42.50. Discounts for Friends, Corporate Club, Over-60s, Under-18s and Groups. Audio-described performance on Saturday November 5 at 2.30pm.