MUSIC OWL AWARDS: 5th – choreography; 1st – song (All That Jazz)
When I went: 9 March 2010 and Spring 2011
Location: Cambridge Theatre, London
Performers: 2011: Anna-Jane Casey (Velma), Ruthie Henshall (Roxie), Terence Maynard (Billy Flynn)
Creative team: John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics), Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb (book), Walter Bobbie (director)
Approximate price: £60
Special points: Great dancing, slick, adult
Best bit: Cell Block Tango
If I could change one thing: Cheaper so more people can go
Chicago is a classic musical made more famous by the Oscar-winning film. The songs are first-rate, with no real weak links throughout the whole track list, and the opening number (All That Jazz) instantly recognisable and the perfect way to set the scene.
The story provides an interesting commentary on fame which is still relevant today and the dancing in Chicago is also very strong. Weirdly, you find yourself rooting for jailbirds Roxie and Velma despite their guilt and you don’t spend too much time mourning the fate of their innocent Hungarian acquaintance or the hapless Amos, Roxie’s long-suffering husband. I think Velma has the best songs despite Roxie being the key protagonist, although the casting of Billy Flynn and Mama Morton can also make or break a performance.
This probably isn’t the right show for young children or families but it’s perfectly suited for dates or groups of adult friends and is one not to miss when it’s on near you.
Both performances that I saw in London were slick, sparkling and witty, with the right amount of dark humour.
Musical theatre veteran performers Ruthie Henshall and Anna-Jane Casey did a great job in the 2011 performance that I saw, with Cell Block Tango and Hot Honey Rag particular highlights (and not just because I caught the pictured rose at the end!).
Terence Maynard played Billy Flynn in both performances and definitely improved between the two, with the second performance of Both Reached for the Gun full of life. The stage version is grittier than the movie version and the 2011 performance was near-faultless.