‘Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps ‘ Act III, Scene I, Much Ado About Nothing
Music Theatre Bristol presents Chicago: a musical which revels in the corruption of 1920s America, becoming one of the favourites of Broadway. When the red curtains open, from the very beginning, passion exudes from the unveiled stage. We are welcomed with a mesmerising mix of sass, crime and all that jazz.
Set in the Jazz era of the 1920s, we’re brought to Chicago where we meet Velma Kelly, who is accused of murdering her husband and sister. Velma Kelly’s crime makes front page news. Also with blood on her hands, enters Roxie Hart: an aspiring dancer, who just murdered her lover, Fred Casely. We watch Velma’s desperate attempts to gain the spotlight become futile, overshadowed by Roxie who claims the stardom for herself. The girls’ thirst for fame ultimately drives them crazy as they try to tackle the American justice system.
The stunning choreography is brought to life by the pure seduction of the cast. Charlotte Bartholomew, who plays Velma Kelly, shines with a perfect performance and a rich voice that can only be matched by her undeniable sass. After some stumbles in the first scene - probably due to first show nerves - the performance really flourished. All voices are incredible; the chorus dancing stunning, and the ensemble support the cast extremely well. Even though the storyline is known by the majority of the audience, they are still captivated by the production. The careful poise between the dashes of humour and the tragedy of the piece really raises the quality of the performance. In particular, we feel a special sympathy for the woeful Amos Hart, who tugs on the heart strings of the audience.
Each scene sets the mood perfectly; the hazy red lighting is sensual and enticing, immersing us fully in the dark allure of the Jazz age. Although the sound effects are sometimes out of time and the staging a little off at points, the small mistakes are easy to forget once you are swept away by the wow factor. Understated costumes and minimal props evoke the punchy slickness of the original production, letting the voices, dancing and acting really resonate.
Chicago will leave you in awe of the pure talent of the cast, and the director Luke Timothy-Silverman orchestrates an immense task with commendable skill. Prepare to be razzle dazzled by the crimes of passion that received a standing ovation.
At the Winston Theatre until 23rd February, with matinees and evening performances running.
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