Chicago Review – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Chicago
Image Source: ATG

Show: Chicago
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Date: Thursday February 7 2022
Time: 19.30
Running Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 12+
Performers: Sheila Ferguson, Russell Watson, Faye Brookes, Djalenga Scott, Jamie Baughan, B.E. Wong, Ishmail Aaron, Michelle Andrews, Gabby Antrobus, Delycia Belgrave, Joel Benjamin, Tanisha-Mae Brown, Daniel Clift, Callum Fitzgerald, Emily Goodenough, Billie Hardy, Aaron Jenkins, Liam Marcellino, Theo Reece, Hollie Jane Stephens & Harrison Wilde
Production Company: Chicago
Writers: Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Director: Walter Bobbie

This is our theatre review of Chicago at Liverpool‘s Empire Theatre. So, let’s take a look at Chicago!

Chicago

Background Of Chicago

“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery. And all those things we hold are near and dear to our hearts.” As you can see, the opening words of Chicago have an impact, as does the whole of this globally successful production. The show is set within the razzle-dazzle decadence of the roaring 1920s and it covers the story of Roxie Hart. Now, Roxie is a housewife and a nightclub dancer, but she has a dark side… she murders her on-the-side lover after his threatens to leave her. However, desperate to avoid jail, she manages to trick the general public, the media and also Velma Kelly, her rival cellmate.

But how does she do this? Well, she hires the city’s craftiest criminal lawyer and he changes her murderous crime into a continuous run of outlandish headlines. Some may say the modern tabloids follow the same strategy. But while Roxie’s scheme works initially, can it succeed in the long run for her to avoid heading to a Chicago prison?

Analysis Of Chicago

This isn’t my first, second or third time seeing Chicago, it’s my fourth. Hello, my name is Emma and I’m a self-confessed Chicago fan! The Empire was packed to the rafters last night and I’m so glad I got a chance to see what’s billed as the sexiest musical ever!

A tale of passion, love, debauchery and pazazz. Chicago has it all. Starting with a slick performance of All That Jazz lead fantastically by Djalenga Scott as Velma Kelly. A very different rendition to others I’ve heard before; softer and clipped but still as enthralling. Brooks is at home as Velma, this character becoming stronger as the show continues, we get to see her grit, steely determination and cunning ways expand.

Cast

Faye Brooks as Roxie is expertly cast. Her playfulness, slick dance moves, and her ability to hold the audience in the palm of her hand was evident for all to see during Roxie. The band were led by the charismatic MD, Andrew Hilton who held a big part to play in this show. Introducing characters, snippets and storylines of the show, all delivered with a touch of humour and showmanship, his talents not only lay in delivering the jazzy blues score but also the storytelling. The placement of the band in Chicago is key seeing as the set offers very little. 

Sheila Ferguson played a blinder as Mama Morton. Welcomed onstage to whoops, she was certainly made to feel very welcome by the Liverpool audience. This is her first appearance in this character and she settled in nicely. Her performance of When You’re Good To Mama packed a punch and she had the manipulative nature of Mama down to a T. She was a commanding presence onstage that’s for sure. A little slowing down of her lines wouldn’t go amiss, giving us a chance to let Mama’s words land but I’m sure this will be fixed the more she performs the role.

Ensemble

Russell Watson stepped into the role of Billy Flynn, a new casting addition for Liverpool stages and beyond. Not the most manipulating version of Billy Flynn I’ve ever seen but certainly the most vocally powerful. Now, I don’t say this lightly but the ensemble cast of Chicago was the tightest ensemble I’ve seen onstage in a good while. Every kick, flick, arm movement and hip roll was expertly in time and flawlessly executed. I loved it and so did the audience.

Jamie Braughan as Amos Hart won the hearts of everyone; his rendition of Cellophane was so pure, heartfelt and innocent. A taste of something so different to the corrupt and calculating nature of the other characters. So, Scotts and Brooks are a powerhouse duo. Best casting of Velma and Roxie I’ve seen since Denise Van Outen and Leigh Zimmerman in the West End circa 2001. They are totally in sync, allowing each other the time to shine and bringing everything together in a foot-tapping showstopper finale in Nowadays. 

Summary Of Chicago

This production of Chicago definitely ticks all the boxes. Tight and jazzy score, strong Fosse style choreography, super tight cast with flawless execution. It would be a crime not to see it. Get those tickets booked!

Notes

Target Audience: Ages 12+
Content: Some Sexual References
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding

So, Chicago runs at the Empire Theatre from Monday 7 February to Saturday 12 February 2022. To purchase tickets, please click here.

Read our previous review of this show by clicking here.

Check Out All Of Our Empire Theatre Reviews!

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