Review: Chicago

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By Liz Coggins

Chicago remains the second longest running musical on Broadway and it’s easy to understand why

It’s stylish, sassy and there’s something about it that never fails to razzle dazzle its audience.

Based on a play by a mild-mannered minister’s daughter from Indiana, who as a junior reporter was assigned to cover the trials of women accused of murder, Chicago tells the stories of women on “murderess row”.

Set in a city ruled by gangsters in the glamorous jazz age era of Prohibition, the story centres around Roxie Hart, sent to prison for murdering her lover, where she meets fellow murderess Velma Kelly. Both desperate to avoid hanging and engage sleazy Billy Flynn as their defence lawyer

For decades tours of Chicago have been slick, smooth and seamless and this production is no exception. But what sets it aside from others is the way the speak-easy music is integrated so successfully with a black-and-white Busby Berkeley ethos and brilliant choreography performed so skilfully by the high energy ensemble.

Chicago literally sizzles right from the start when Velma performs the iconic, electrifying All That Jazz. Sophie Carmen Jones is the ultimate Velma. Her vocals, characterization and dance prowess are totally mind- blowing. Hayley Tamaddon’s Roxy, although pleasing vocally, is a tad too sugary, lacking the feisty brashness and harsh edge the role demands.

As the silver-tongued lawyer Billy Flynn, John Partridge captures the archetypal 30s movie image perfectly whilst A D Richardson, as columnist Mary Sunshine is totally amazing in both voice and character.

Leeds Grand Theatre, until November 26.