Review // Chicago

I bloody love the film Chicago. When I was about 15, my friend Amanda was really into it so I'd watch it at hers a lot and her enthusiasm rubbed off. I bought the soundtrack and everything. Once I put All That Jazz on and performed a funky dance number for a then 4-year-old Myles. I got fully in the zone, jazz hands and everything, and it was only once I'd finished that my stepdad decided to announce his presence. Yep, he'd been standing in the doorway watching the whole thing. Mortified. Anyway, the point is- I really like Chicago and ever since I first watched it, I've wanted to see the theatre show. Last month the Chicago tour swung into Woking so I took my chance and booked a ticket.

Chicago UK Tour Review
Originally, Marie was going to come with me but we'd booked Alton Towers for two days later and she doesn't like to spend too much time with me so decided against the show (that's not the real reason. I don't think) I really, really wanted to see it so figured I'd just go on my own. I'd never been to the theatre on my own before but my Grandma used to do it all the time so I reckoned it couldn't be that bad. Of course it was fine. The woman next to me was also on her own so I didn't feel like a weirdo and, as I went to a Wednesday matinee, the audience was mostly made up of nice, respectful old folk anyway. Going on my own also meant I was able to secure a seat in the front row of the royal circle so I had the best view in the house! 

Now, I'm going to try and avoid making comparisons to the film but inevitably they will emerge. First things first- I preferred the film and that surprised me. Most of this is down to the fact that a touring production just can't be as dynamic as a Hollywood movie. The big sets, fancy choreography and complex musical numbers just aren't possible in a suburban theatre. However, this doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Far from it, in fact!

It was only towards the end of the performance that I noticed the complete lack of a scenery. Instead of relying on evolving sets, the story moved on entirely through the dialogue and choreography, with the help of some clever lighting, which I thought was pretty impressive. This is even more apparent when you consider that the vast majority of the stage was taken up with a structure containing the orchestra so there was only a small area of floor space to move in. This structure acted as part of the set, meaning the actors could really interact with the musicians. Particularly interesting here is that the composer became a secondary character in himself, taking centre stage rather than being hidden away, and performing alongside the actors, even with a couple of spoken lines. 

The actors were all great, of course, with some well-known names such as John Partridge as Billy Flynn and Jessie Wallace as Mama Morton (Through the whole show, I sat there thinking "This actress really looks like Jessie Wallace!" It was only when they named the actors in the encore that I realised that's because it was Jessie Wallace)  However, Hayley Tamaddon's Roxie Hart was fantastic and this is where I need to slip in a little film comparison. My only experience of Roxie's character was Renee Zellwegger's portrayal as a fairly coy, aloof and, let's face it, sappy woman who made a mistake in the heat of the passion. Hayley Tamaddon's Roxie was the complete opposite- quirky, excitable and vivacious, shamelessly putting her own interests above those of anyone else. In theory, this should make her unlikeable but, on the contrary, she was a dynamic and funny character who had us all rooting for her.

My favourite scene in the film is Cell Block Tango so I was eagerly anticipating this number. Unfotunately it was nowhere near as dynamic as I'd expected. To be fair, this was largely down to the limited stage floor which didn't exactly allow for elaborate choreography. On the contrary, We Both Reached For The Gun, a scene I've never had any particular affinity with, was exemplary. The way the number gradually built up to a huge climax- with some seriously impressive vocal work- left me completely enraptured. I was also pleased to see the inclusion of Class. As I said, I had the soundtrack so I knew some of the numbers that weren't included in the film and this was one I particularly liked. 

Although the show may not quite have lived up to my high expectations, I still absolutely loved it! Chicago is touring until 31st December so you'll have to be quick if you want to see it.

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2 comments:

  1. Chicago is one of my favourites, I was sad to see it leave London. The film is one of the few that I like just as much as the musical and I like that the stage is so spartan, you can really focus on what's going on

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  2. I really love Chicago!

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