Chicago is a musical staple in theatres around the world, bouncing from city to city with its catchy songs, titillating costumes and wicked wit. Its latest incarnation has come to London recently with music stars Alexandra Burke taking on the role of Roxy Heart and Duncan James in the role of Billy Flynn. I headed over to see if this much-loved classic lives up to the hype.
Unlike the film version of this show theatre lovers will know that the live theatrical version of this show is a much more stripped back and subtle affair. The black box style with minimal set and simple but classic costuming leaves the focus of this show to be on its music, which is where the strength of this show really lies. The band remains on stage throughout, interacting with the cast throughout creating a different experience to many of the usual West End Musicals. Chicago has some of the best songs in musical theatre, classics such as The Cell Block Tango, All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle are truley timeless.
The classic roaring twenties story of a murderess chasing fame and celebrities trying to use their status to avoid jail time based on their notoriety and money is one that is oh too familiar still in modern times. In fact the overarching story of the publics desperation for fame and money over all things seems to never have changed, so the tale is a hit with audiences who find it hard not to tap and sing along.
Duncan James has a standout performance as Billy Flynn where not only does he look the part but his vocals are absolutely perfect from song to song, his temporary position in this musical is definitely one worth watching, hopefully he can be persuaded to make it permanent. Fellow pop star Alexandra Burke also puts on a stells performance as the infamous Roxie Heart and is joined by the fabulous Laura Tyrer in the role of Velma Kelly. I was lucky enough to meet some of the cast after the show and I can confirm that they are all sweethearts.
Whilst it may not have the biggest production or the more creative set and costume in the West End, this isn’t what you come to watch Chicago for. The score of this show is beautifully performed with fantastic energy and is worth the cost of a ticket alone!
Chicago is on at the Phoenix Theatre is currently booking until January 5th and tickets start from just £20.