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Review of Chicago Cambridge Theatre London June 2011

Visited the Cambridge Theatre last night and saw the musical Chicago. Yes I know countless reviews have been written about it, but here is mine!

IF you haven’t seen the musical then you had better hurry while Chicago is still at the Cambridge Theatre, before either closing or finding a new theatre to go to, as Matilda the Musical takes residence after Chicago closes on 27th August.


Set in the mid 1920s in Chicago, Illinois, Velma Kelly is a vaudevillian who murdered both her husband and her sister when she found them in bed together. Meanwhile, we hear of Roxie Hart’s murder of her lover, nightclub regular Fred Casely.

The musical is set during the prohibition period in Chicago. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of the criminal justice system and the concept of the ‘celebrity criminal’. The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on.

Okay, on with the show!

The sensual and captivating cast provide a seductive theme throughout the show, which succeeds in conveying a tale in a burlesque style that is highly entertaining from start to finish.

Sarah Soetaert is superb as Roxie Hart, as together with a beautiful singing voice, she captivates the audience with the wide range of emotions of her character. There are some great moments but I particularly enjoyed the reporters’ puppet scene with ‘Billy Flynn’ which was both innovative and humorous.

Sarah Soetaert

Debbie Kurup

The double act of Roxie and Velma is completed by Debbie Kurup who plays the part of Velma Kelly. Debbie has a fabulous vocal range and she captures the audience every time she is on stage. Her dance routines are also performed magnificently. When Debbie moves on from Chicago I am sure that she will continue to be a star wherever she performs, as she is such a talented and versatile actress.

Billy Flynn the smooth talking lawyer, who represents Roxie and Velma, was played by David Page, who played the part admirably with style and charisma. His duets were particularly good, with his timing and delivery first-class.

James Doherty

Amos (Andy) Hart, the inconsequential husband of Roxie, was played by James Doherty. It is fair to say that he wins the ‘sympathy vote’ as the husband who gives his all, but isn’t noticed by anyone, including his wife. James performed the part of Amos extremely well, having developed the character in his own style.  He delivered an outstanding performance.

While the rest of the cast gave super performances, I will mention Jasna Ivir (Matron ‘Mama’ Morton), R. Whitehead (Mary Sunshine) and Rachel Muldoon (Go To Hell Kitty) who I thought were terrific.

Mention must also be made of the orchestra who provide the backdrop for the stage, blending in and out of the background as and when required. They were outstanding!

I hope to go again to see Chicago when Billy Flynn will be performed by the brilliant Jonathan Wilkes, who missed last night’s performance to attend a friend’s wedding. I know, priorities…

So, what is my ‘verdict’ on the musical Chicago? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I would recommend anyone to go and see it. It is a musical classic which has stood the test of time.

If I have a criticism of the show it is the set. I will say that the simplistic style of the set doesn’t detract from the performances of the cast, but I cannot help but feel that with a little effort the show could be ‘enhanced’ with a more dynamic set. Perhaps in moving to another theatre the opportunity will be provided to do some work on this. However even with the current set, this is a fabulous musical!

Why is Chicago moving out of the Cambridge Theatre to make way for Matilda? The bottom line is doubtless to do with money.  That said, I think that it would be a tragedy to have the West End without Chicago.

To conclude, this must be an extremely difficult time for the cast and creative team of Chicago who currently do not know IF they will have another theatre to take the show to, or whether they need to look for another job. I wish them all the very best for the future. If you haven’t seen Chicago, you really should go and see it!

5th June 2011

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