Chicago’s razzle dazzle and sleazy underbelly are brought, high-kicking and soft shoe shuffling, into the glare of the spotlights in this David Ian and Michael in association with Barry and Fran Weissler production currently on tour.
And what a show it is.
Hollyoaks and The Bill’s Ali Bastion shows her range as a convincing conniving Roxy with good vocals and impressive hoofing (shades of her perfect 10 reign in Strictly Come Dancing) while Stefan Booth (Hollyoaks’s Jamie Nash, Dancing on Ice finalist and EastEnders’ Greg) is flash and competent as Billy Flynn, paid crony to the death row divas.
Their ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’ is hilarious but oh so clever while the fan dance backing to Booth’s ‘All I Care About’ is spot-on.
Jamie Baughan (Johnny Shakespeare, The Bill) is wonderfully poignant as Mr Cellophane, Roxy’s cuckolded husband Amos; Alex Weatherhill comic as reporter with a heart and a secret, and Debbie Jenkins steps into an absent Bernice Nolan’s shoes with great aplomb as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.
Ian Oswald’s Louis Spence-esque posturing is delightful and stand-out amongst the exceptionally strong company - lithe, sinuous and high velocity throughout. And able to sing - with ‘Cell Block Tango’ a high spot.
The apposite black and white costuming, and Ken Billington’s mostly dim lighting creates atmosphere, as does the cramped stage taken up mainly by the superb 10-piece orchestra, boxed and tiered, which is integral to the piece with musical director Adrian Kirk caught up in the action.
Clever hinged ladders add dimension and focus for comment and clear facial expression, and the constant presence of the cast, seated in rows along the side of the stage, adds to the claustrophobic feel of life in the gaze of the wardens and celeb-hungry Press.
And leaving the best until last: where has Genevieve Nicole been hiding? As the statuesque Velma, legs up to her armpits, she is feisty and agile with a beautiful, rich voice perfectly suited to ‘All That Jazz’ and is, for me, the particular delight of this entertaining, must-see musical.