Edinburgh Playhouse

June 13-18


Stagecraft: 5  Book: four-stars Performance 5

Chicago, what a surreal dream of a musical. Kander & Ebbs creation of cabaret, sex & gritty realism is a perennial favorite. Great songs, great dancing, corruption, celebrity & a juicy trial thrown  in to boot. The nucleus of the musical lies in a play by journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins, which was based upon crimes she covered for her newspaper. With classic numbers such as “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle” Chicago has won, up to date,  6 Tony, 2 Olivier, 1 Grammy, 2 Bafta and 6 Academy Awards.

Director Walter Bobbie is taking his version on tour about Britain & the Edinburgh audience simply lapped it up. We enter the world of Al Capone’s prohibition Chicago – a time where jazz and liquor filled the air – where Roxie Hart, played effortlessly by Hayley Tamaddon has slain her boyfriend, a bit like Ruth Ellis. Enter her dotting husband Amos (Neil Ditt) & defence attorney Billy Fynn (John Partridge) who do everything they can to pervert the course of justice.

To the mix we must add Sophie Carmen-Jones is also a class act, who plays Velma Kelly, & adds some spice to the proceedings, especially in her synchronic harmonizing with the ear-worming Nowadays. What follows is a roller-coaster ride of emotions & of course, jazz-handed musicology & supersexy moves – especially when the entire ensemble are on stage. In particular Partridge plays Billy Flynn’s dapper, sleazy, money-grabbing lawyer, to perfection, with a singing performance that left the females audience wanting more .

Its great to see top-drawer musicals on tour, especially ones with such sublimely glorious scores as Kander & Ebb’s Chicago. Its also superb to really feel simple power in a simple shoulder shrug, or the compsosed-for-effect the tilt of a hat. Brilliant & subtle, these were just part of a choreographized masterpiece. The highlight for me was the sublime The Cell Block Tango – a master-class in what musical theater ought to be. A sensational ride from a star studded cast ,who truly shine an electric performance.

Reviewer : Lisa Wallace


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