Chicago – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Steve Crabtree, October 2021
Glitz, glamour, murder… and all that jazz is in Bradford this week, with Chicago rocking up to delight the Yorkshire audiences.
It’s a show I haven’t seen before – either on stage or screen. Much to the horror of my partner! But I was looking forward to my first taste of this production with a star-studded cast that included Faye Brookes, Darren Day and Sinitta.
“Wooping and wolf-whistles”
I couldn’t see a free seat in the house as the curtain went up at 7:30pm. And from the off, we had whooping and wolf-whistles as Annie (Michelle Andrews) seductively introduced the show. Then, we were straight into the first of 21 impressive numbers of an impressive show.
Faye Brookes played lead role Roxie Hart. And she played it really well. Vocally she was amazing, and she moved well too. But it was the perfectly executed sweet vulnerability, together with a sneaky feminine trickery that made her stand out. Djalenga Scott deserves special mention for her portrayal of Velma Kelly too. She can more than knock out a good vocal, offers perfect comic timing when up a ladder, and her high kicks would make a giraffe flinch. Together, Scott and Brookes were a clever pairing for those roles, both giving polished performances.
Joel Montague’s portrayal of Roxie’s suffering husband Amos Hart was fantastic too. He won the heart of the audience with his naivety, his sadness and his comedy aloofness throughout the whole show – and the biggest of cheers were often reserved for him at various points of the show.
Scenery wise, there wasn’t much. It was the band that made up the backdrop for the entire show, and I found that really refreshing. They were an integral part of proceedings, and it was nice to see them in all their glory as opposed to peeping out from below the stage. At appropriate times they were certainly making the most of being up there and musical director Andrew Hilton played a small scripted role in the show too, drawing laughs and applause as he did.
Some subtle, but clever lighting nicely shifted the look of the stage when needed. But it didn’t need much – and I think that says a lot for the show. There weren’t any costume changes either – even when a member of the dance troupe became a journalist or a policeman – but this was fine in a quick-moving musical, which delivers a glamorously sinister story in a humorous and endearing way.
The choreography in Chicago is terrific, and you love all the characters. The baddies are good, and the nasties are nice. There are raunchy jazz numbers aplenty and chuckles where you least expect them. The first laughs set in as early as Elma and The Girls performed ‘Cell Block Tango V’ from prison, as they described how all the murders they committed were complete accidents.
My first watch of Chicago was a memorable one. I can see why people love it, and go back to see it time and again. As the show played out, I found myself grinning widely and laughing a lot. It’s based on a true story from 1924 when the city was run by gangsters, and I’ve probably harped on about the comedy aspect of Chicago a great deal here – but it’s not a comedy show. It just has plenty of moments that take the story of Roxie Hart to a light-hearted level, making it simply very entertaining.
And with a brilliant cast doing a brilliant job, we had a musical that truly brought some razzle-dazzle to Bradford.
Chicago runs at Bradford Alhambra until Saturday 16th October