And now, ladies and gentleman, York Grand Opera House presents a tale of 1920s corruption and celebrity…
The tale of murderous chorus girl Roxie Hart, criminal vaudevillian Velma Kelly and hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn has wowed audiences for over ten years and the latest incarnation of the hit show is currently treading the boards at the Opera House. With a stellar TV cast including Ali Bastian (Hollyoaks, The Bill), Tupele Dorgu (Coronation Street) and Stefan Booth (The Bill), the opening night in York was always going to be a popular affair and it doesn’t disappoint.
The opening is slow. Dorgu’s version of big number All That Jazz is a great opening but the spirit does not last. The show’s gorgeous female cast raise spirits with their Cell Block Tango but again the show is pulled back by the musical numbers that follow. However, the yo-yo opening changes with the introduction of Billy Flynn. Booth’s entrance is impressive. Ushered onstage by all the girls in the cast, Booth sings All I Care About and hits every note.
His appearance on Dancing on Ice may have confirmed a skill for movement but the man also has an impressive voice. From there, the slow start is forgotten and we get into the crux of Chicago: the corruption of celebrity in prohibition America. The rise of Roxy Hart as crime’s sweetheart really picks up the show and Bastian’s performance, including the fantastic We Both Reached for the Gun and sultry Roxie, gives the audience an impressive end to act one.
The start of act two takes the whole theatre by surprise. With lights still on, Bernie Nolan whistles for our attention and introduces us to Adrian Kirk and his assembled players. As the band has occupied most of the stage all night, it’s not like we weren’t aware of their presence but their five minutes of dedicated fame is a spirited start to the second half of the show. From there, the pace of the first half is rekindled and we’re treated to some of more famous numbers including Mister Cellophane, Razzle Dazzle and Nowadays. In the film, I hated the Amos Hart character and Mister Cellophane is a major reason why. I find the song slow and dull but kudos to Jamie Baughan because I liked his portrayal of the gullible Amos.
In the end, all the razzle dazzle of Chicago is present. On opening night, the crowd seemed to warm to Tupele Dorgu more than Ali Bastian but I think any criticism of the cast would be harsh. The female TV pair work well together, Stefan Booth and Bernie Nolan provide the perfect foil for their performance while the assembled cast of dancers are fantastic in their supporting roles.
The performance is sexy, fun and has all the jazz you need whether you’re a fan of the film, previous Chicago productions or musical theatre in general.
Chicago The Musical runs until 21 April at York Grand Opera House.