Chicago at Phoenix Theatre
Chicago is a raucous American affair oozing with sex, crime and unadulterated fun.
See the bright lights of the iconic city and delve into the underworld of lust, lies, jealousy and murder. The Broadway classic returns to the West End with a bang, bang, bang.
In an affair gone wrong, Roxie Hart (Sarah Soetaert) ends up in Cook County Jail for the cold-blooded murder of her lover. Of course, if you believe the papers, you’ll know that they both reached for the gun. The defendant’s expensive lawyer Billy Flynn – the one, the only, Cuba Gooding Jr – razzle-dazzles the press, the courts and the country into believing in Roxie’s innocence. All the time, the accused dreams of using her new-found celebrity to take to the stage and become a vaudeville star.
There’s nothing particularly new or different about this production, but then there isn’t meant to be. It’s been a while since Chicago last graced the West End, and now London once again has a chance to see the beloved show the way it always was.
The dazzling cast performs with grace, style and electricity. Soetaert and her co-star Josefina Gabrielle (as the similarly jailed Velma Kelly) lead the show. Their stunningly exciting performances of hits like All That Jazz and Roxie are perfect.
And what of Gooding Jr, the man that everyone wants to see? He doesn’t disappoint. It’s clear, especially in comparison with the other actors on the stage that the A-lister isn’t exactly a singer. But he does just about manage to hold his own, musically speaking. And the Oscar-winner brings an unrivaled energy and exhilaration to the room that is simply fantastic to be a part of.
But the real star of the show is the score. The on-stage band creates an incredible smokey music hall atmosphere and elevates the tuneful accompaniment just as much as the singing or the dancing.
Chicago is big, bold and unapologetic. An exquisitely tawdry night that has the audience bopping along and roaring with laughter. Maybe it doesn’t bring anything new to the classic story, but for anyone who’s never seen the musical live – or for those who would want to see it again – it’s well worth a watch.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Chicago is at Phoenix Theatre from 26th March until 6th October 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.