Our Verdict: Chicago Razzle Dazzles at the Bristol Hippodrome this week
Our Rating: 10/10
Executed to perfection, Chicago Razzle Dazzles at the Bristol Hippodrome this week with sultry performances, hot jazz, cold gin and double murder.
The famous musical originally created in the 70s by the industry’s finest, brims with show stopping numbers. It follows the fame and fortunes of club singer Roxie Hart and Vaud-Villain Velma Kelly as they vye against each other to become Celebrity Murderer of the Week.
Media wasn’t much different in the 1920s apparently, with criminals and lawyers playing the press to avoid being hanged. As much exposure as possible was essential to succeed with the fickle nature of the press dropping one girl for another in quick succession.
It’s a show well known for its very strong female leads and support. But, the show is a real ensemble piece and relies on the scantily clad swing smoking with Bob Fosse’s angular and arthritis inducing choreography to tell the story.
Casting apparently included soap stars and X Factor winners. But this made not the slightest difference to a performance that included some of the best vocals ringing through the Hippodrome auditorium for some time.
Three times I checked the programme that Sophie Carmen-Jones played Velma Kelly. For an actor with a very small, fresh biography, she ruled the Hippodrome stage like a boss.
Hayley Tamaddon, apparently from a soap called Emmerdale, gave a warm and fun performance as murdering Roxie Hart. And that’s not to forget the puppet master who pulls the strings, John Partridge as Billy Flynn. He came back from a rather dull opening All I Care About to Win to perform We Both Reached for the Gun with panache.
Some of the best performances of the show came in Cell Block Tango, We Both Reached for the Gun, an outstanding rendition of Class and of course, Razzle Dazzle.
Chicago naturally flies along thanks to a tight book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse and conducted by musical director Ben Atkinson – with all the fun of a talented yet somewhat squiffy jazz band touring Europe. This is one of the few musicals where the orchestra is on stage throughout and are not afraid to take their share of the limelight.
Chicago is a thoroughly enjoyable show. It’s classic status remains so through it’s fabulous music, it’s dark satirical storytelling and as usual flawless casting.
Chicago is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 09 July 2016