“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery” – Chicago stopped by at Leeds Grand Theatre to dazzle audiences with a heavy presence of impressive choreography from the iconic Bob Fosse. This jazz infused musical is far different from the 2001 film adaptation and while this left many unsure of the musical on its own, the evening was catchy and entertaining. As for the celebrity casting however, that left a little more to be desired.
The intricate style of Bob Fosse was prevalent throughout. Dancers performed these movements with ease – disjointed counts, lifts and synchronisation gave the show its professional glow. The ever recognisable overture, All The Jazz was a specular to witness and Velma (Sophie Carmen- Jones) was truly the star the show. By having the ensemble perform as the cast too without distinct costume changes for the majority really helped Chicago to stay true to the cabaret elements of the show.
‘Dancers performed these movements with ease – disjointed counts, lifts and synchronisation gave the show its professional glow’
While the show was heavily led by dance, the acting was not as impressive. Jessie Wallace had a good portrayal of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton yet her staging was often static and felt more than a tableau rather than live action and while John Partridge as Billy Flynn gave a great stab at being a charmer, his husky voice felt more off putting than engaging. As for Roxie (Hayley Tamaddon), it felt that there was a lack of energy in places that could have done with that little bit more of a push on the melodramatic element of the musical.
Chicago is a great example of a performance that is distinctly different to its film adaptation, which is refreshing. Its memorable and catchy music and flawless, sexy and almost raunchy dancing almost forgives the questionable acting by some of the leading cast. Certainly worth attending the tour if you’re a fan of Fosse and a bit of melodrama and jazz.
(Image courtesy of Leeds Grand)