Chicago: The Musical (Garrick Theatre)

Posted on December 17, 2011

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I’ve seen ‘Chicago‘ countless times, it’s one of my all time favourite musicals. “Cell Block Tango” is one of the greatest musical theatre songs ever written. ‘Chicago‘ is one of those shows that almost suffers from its own success. It will run come rain or come shine, or come talent or come filler as the case may be.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I hate stunt celebrity casting. I’ve deliberately avoided seeing ‘Chicago‘ when the likes of Jerry Springer or Kelly Osbourne are in the cast. I’m a bit more tolerant when actors or singers take the roles (you at least know they can do half the job). Of course, there are times you are pleasantly surprised at seeing a performer you think you knew, reveal a whole new side (Sheridan Smith in ‘Legally Blonde’ for example).

Those BOYS! I basically had to be peeled off my seat come the end of the performance. 

So at the moment we have America Ferrara in the role of Roxy Hart as ‘Chicago‘ moves to the Garrick Theatre. The producers have wisely teamed her up with ‘Chicago‘ veterans. Amra-Faye Wright returns as Velma Kelly. Wright is spot on as Velma, a veteran scraping for the limelight. Wright can sing the part, dance the part, and act the part (occasionally over-act the part I thought, but that’s a quibble). And Darius Campbell returns to play Billy Flynn.

Ferrara can sing. She may not be the best voice on the stage, but the girl can sing. And she can act – her monologue before “Roxie” is great. While her voice is okay, her dancing is lacking and that means she can’t quite make the part work for a musical theatre fan like me. She is however extremely likeable and watchable on stage.

The real star of the show for me however, was the ensemble. Whenever they were performing the show came to life (and not only because they got my pulse racing). “Cell Block Tango” was FANTASTIC! Each girl game her role a fresh tone, a clearly defined character. It was a joy to watch.

And those BOYS!

I basically had to be peeled off my seat come the end of the performance. Thankfully when other aspects of the show were underwhelming me, I could just stare at these flawless men (they sing, they dance, they have great bodies).

Sadly however the whole show feels stale.

The move to the Garrick could have been a chance to inject some new life into the show, but sadly no, this is the same old warhouse and it’s feeling a little shabby around the edges.

Verdict: Like a well worn VHS tape, ‘Chicago’ still has charm, but is losing its colour and energy and the likes of America Ferrara aren’t enough to reinvigorate it.

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Posted in: Musical