The show’s timeless, classic songs including All That Jazz, Cell Block Tango and Razzle Dazzle were performed effortlessly, flawlessly and with abundant humour by the star studded cast. At the press night, Ali Bastian and Stefan Booth had been replaced by understudies, but for the rest of the week audiences will see ex-Coronation Street favouriteTupele Dorgu as double murderess Velma Kelly, ex- Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastian as Roxie Hart, Stefan Booth as wheeler-dealer lawyer Billy Flynn and household name Bernie Nolan as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.
The plot of Chicago is based on real events in 1920’s Chicago. Nightclub singer Roxie Hart shot her lover, and eventually has to take the blame after her longsuffering husband - who initially offers to be the scapegoat- spills the beans. Her Cook County Jail rival, Velma Kelly, murdered her husband and sister after she found them in bed together. After a woman in Illinois is hanged for murder, this breaks legal precedent and both women fear the same fate. Slimy lawyer Billy Flynn helps the women in return for an obscene amount of money.
Chicago offers a reflection upon the fickle hand of fame as both women are launched in and out of public favour. The story also considers the phenomena of criminals being idolised and seen as celebrities.
The set is simplistic but true to the era, the costumes rich in colour, the performances slick and the dancing seductive; a feast for the senses.
Most entertaining and enthralling was Bernie Nolan’s character, Mama. Played by Queen Latifah in the 2002 Hollywood film, Nolan’s Mama brought a new maternal quality to the feisty role. Although Mama, the corrupt overseer of the girls’ cell block, is clearly money-driven, Nolan’s delivery portrayed the greed and selfishness with an undercurrent of empathy and her smaller physical presence made the character more adorable.
Chicago is a raunchy, classy yet sometimes cheeky production that guarantees an evening of laughter and pleasure. Expect feather boas and fans, corsets, and lots of writhing around by an incredibly fit cast wearing next to nothing; not for the fainthearted.
Chicago will run at the Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 29th September, before continuing on its tour. For tickets and information go to http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk