Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
Chicago: The Hottest Show on Stage
Before you see this production, I must warn you, that it is the catchiest musical going, and by far the most edgy and sexy. This is what live shows need today, to be daring to stand out from the crowd. Having been new to the production and the film, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show.
The Congress Theatre is a large venue, that doesn’t lose it’s flavour due to it’s size. You could sense the excitement in the crowd as the music began and it was a positive atmosphere that stayed through to the very end, even outside the theatre afterwards people were humming along to the soundtrack. I had heard half of the songs from the production without even knowing they were going to be in it as they are such big hits. I’m still finding myself singing away to them now, Razzle Dazzle and Mr Cellophane in particular!
With one of the biggest cast sizes in a touring uk production, 22 excluding the band, this is a production of remarkable stature. It is mixed nicely with a very simple yet highly effective set, with the band acting as a classy backdrop to all of the action, with the quality of the performers taking the spotlight.
Sophie Carmen-Jones was the standout performer for me as Velma Kelly, proving she can sing, dance and act which was tenacious and gripping from the start, she almost stole the show had it not been for Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart, literally stealing the limelight from her character. The two hit all the high notes in a stellar performance, complimenting each other throughout.
John Partridge was the big hit and male star of the show, the crowd cheering as he was introduced as Billy Flynn, the sleazy, slick and charming lawyer, with a very distinctive american accent. The former Eastenders actor proved he could certainly sing, with one belter in particular with a powerhouse of a note lasting at least 20 seconds, egging the crowd on as he sung in charming fashion.
The story revolves around Roxie Hart wanting to make it big in Chicago, but no-one notices her, until she uses the murder of her lover, which she commits, as her opportunity to rise to stardom in the papers. With Billy Flynn as her lawyer taking the big bucks and charming his way through the press there seems to be no stopping her, former star Velma Kelly starts to lose her shine and will do anything to claw it back as a rivalry grows between the two girls, who are overseen by Mama, played by X Factor winner Sam Bailey, who had one of the most powerful voices on the stage. But Chicago moves quickly, and the press only want what’s in, and these ladies will do whatever it takes to keep on top of it.
If you love musicals, the film or just fancy a night at the theatre, I couldn’t recommend this more to you. Bring your friends to a spectacular evening they won’t forget, I’m already planning my next trip to Chicago!
Reviewer : Stephen Sheldrake
☆☆☆☆ | Highly recommended
Photos by Catherine Ashmore
Chicago continues to play at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne until Saturday 16th April 2016 BUY TICKETS HERE
It then continues on it’s nationwide tour throughout 2016 stopping at
The Hawth Crawley
Mon 30th May 2015 – Sat 4th Jun 2016
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Mon 24 – Sat 29 Oct 2016