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Chicago (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Chicago, the Olivier and Tony-winning show, returns to Manchester this week. This classic Kander and Ebb musical’s wrapping of razzamataz and feathers contains unforgettable songs such as “All That Jazz."

The orchestra centred on stage give that and other hard-hitting numbers such as “Cell Block Tango”, “Razzle Dazzle” and “Mr Cellophane”, even more impact. At the start of Act 2, the musicians become a show in their own right.

The package contains high-octane creative choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse recreated by Gary Chryst. These testing routines require and get absolute precision and co-ordination from the hot, sexy and energetic dancers who often sing simultaneously.

This foot-tapping, colourful production set in the 1920s and based on fact, features West End veteran of musicals, Gary Wilmot as the charismatic lawyer, Billy Flynn, who, if well rewarded, will save pretty girls from Death Row.

The pretty girls are former Eastender, Emma Barton who captivates the audience as raunchy Roxie Hart, equalled by comparative newcomer Twinnie-Lee Moore as the seductive, long legged dancer, Velma Kelly. Lee-More will, I believe, soon become a household name.

This talented twosome throw themselves into their roles with vigour and great talent and are devilishly cunning and wicked. Roxie has shot dead her lover and Velma, a Vaudeville artist, has despatched both her husband and sister after catching them in bed together. Yet, rather like O.J. Simpson, they have become press idols.

Audiences will remember the 2002 film version starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger but the stage version loses nothing as a result, as it is a smash hit, in its right. too. This slick touring version is just as entertaining.

When Billy gets both girls off without the press celebrity they crave, they team up to dance and sing “Nowadays” and “Hot Honey Rag” in unforgettable style until they are joined by all the performers for the final song “Finale."

Chicago contains fast moving, zip and pazzazz by an excellent cast who clearly enjoy what they are doing. It has catchy tunes you hum on the way home, wonderful movement and high-kicks giving you the the feeling that you have left the real world behind; exciting escapism. It's no small wonder the audience stand, and clap along at the close.

When you’ve seen Chicago you know what show business is all about, as it is pure "Class."

- Julia Taylor


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