There is always a fear that a musical which seems to regularly tour will not live up to the either previous tours or the West End original. However this production is up there with the best, its sharp , beautifully played and identifies why this show is still proving to be a great night out at the theatre, both on tour and in the West End.
Emma Barton has left Albert Square firmly behind and swapped her Billy Mitchell for Billy Flynn as she takes the role of Roxie Hart by the throat and proves a worthy successor to all those who have gone before. While understudy Genevieve Nicole proves to be an excellent Velma Kelly, having a great chemistry with Barton and deserves to play the role in her own right.
Star billing is left to Marti Pellow and having seen the show several times previously, he certainly makes the character of Billy Flynn his own. Although his numerous female fans did become over too exuberant at times, spoiling the more tender moments for those around them , especially during the Mister Cellophane number.
The show, as always is set in almost a cut away box, with the orchestra being on stage all the time but as you become engrossed in the story you forget this and watch Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart attempt to get the better of each other, through murder and mayhem, assisted by Flynn and Mama Morton. Morton is played by, Wendy-Lee Purdy but she lacked the stage presence of the rest of the leading players and failed to make her role, as the wheeler dealer prison matron, believable.
There are no pleasant characters in the musical, as everyone is out for themselves with the exception of Amos, the used, put upon husband who is ignored, leading him to sing Mr Cellophane. The curtain call reception that greeted Adam Stafford showed he had pitched his performance, as Amos, exactly right.
While Barton, Stafford and Purdy have toured in this production for a long time, the injection of Pellow, as Flynn, a role he has played in London and Broadway, make this show continue to be one of the best musicals around.