Most people will be familiar with Chicago from the big screen version, starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones, which is now almost fifteen years old. The show originally premiered in 1975, and this is the second production of the show to come the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in four years, which speaks to its enduring popularity.
In this production Hayley Tamaddon and Sophie Carmen-Jones take on the roles of murderesses Roxie and Velma respectively, former Eastenders actor and Celebrity Big Brother participant John Partridge plays lawyer Billy Flynn, and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey is jail warden Momma Morton.
From opener, All That Jazz, to Cell Block Tango to Razzle Dazzle, Chicago is packed with instantly recognisable musical numbers, which are the highlight of the show. The singing is excellent by all; Sam Bailey in particular stands out and will silence anyone who is a bit sniffy about the level of singing talent on the X-Factor. I also really enjoyed Sophie Carmen-Jones performance as Velma; she drew attention whenever she was on stage.
At its heart, Chicago is a critique of celebrity culture, the nature of celebrity, and the obsession with finding the latest scandal. For a show written in 1970s, and set in the 1920s, the message is equally relevant today. There is a cynical element to the story, characters break the fourth wall and reveal their true thoughts to the audience; this may not be for everyone but it's something I liked.
The one criticism I would have is the staging. Bob Fosse's iconic choreography is central to Chicago, as important as the songs themselves. Fosse was an actor, director, writer and choreographer whose work includes Sweet Charity, Cabaret and All That Jazz. His choreographic style is characterised by the use of props such as hats and chairs, and jazz hands.
In this production, the band is positioned on a large stand in the middle of the stage, which leaves limited room for the chorus. The dancers do a great job, but seem confined by space on occasion. I would have liked to see the band moved back, to give the choreography a greater chance to shine. However, I appreciate that the stage space is limited, and the band are woven into the action throughout the show.
Overall it's an enjoyable night out and worth attending, especially if you have not seen the stage show before.
Chicago runs at the Bord Gais Energy theatre until Saturday, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday. Visit their website for details on tickets.