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Chicago The Musical at Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical has just opened an extended tour at Churchill Theatre, Bromley, ending July 2022 in Llandudno, and visiting most parts of the UK in between

CHICAGO. Sinitta Malone 'Matron Mama Morton'. Photo Tristram Kenton.
CHICAGO. Sinitta Malone ‘Matron Mama Morton’. Photo Tristram Kenton.

The 1926 play by Maurine Dallas Watkins about judicial corruption in 1926 USA now seems irrelevant, most members of last night’s audience seeming to be far more interested in the music and dancing. The ‘star of the show is undoubtedly the superb ten-piece band set centre stage, under the direction of Andrew Hilton and including a superb trumpeter and flugel player (Alan Hase) as well as Mike Cullen on mandolin and banjo, ensuring a true period feel to the show.

The tour, based on the original production and directed by Stacey Haynes, includes superb choreography by Gary Chryst.

Perhaps the best dancer on stage is Djalenca Scott as Velma whose movements are completely effortless yet precise. Faye Brooks (Roxy) is also a graceful dancer, as well as being able to put over her songs with feeling when required.

In this revival, it is the younger members of the cast who really impress: Joel Montague as Roxy’s cuckolded husband Amos Hart has one of the most well-known songs in the show ‘Mr Cellophane’ and puts it over very sensitively, even if it sends anyone under the age of thirty to Wikipedia in order to discover what ‘cellophane’ actually is! Joel Benjamin looks sexily athletic as Roxy’s short-lived lover, Fred Casely and Ishmael Aaron is subtly amusing as all the jury in Roxy’s trial.

One of the most successful portrayals is that of Daniel Clift in the role of the gossip columnist Mary Sunshine: his/her song justly received the biggest ovation in Act One.

Billy Flynn, everyone’s lawyer if you have $5000, was played straight ‘out front’ by Darren Day and the matron of the prison, Mama Morton by Sinitta Malone, a rather understated performance that may well grow in stature over the next eight months.

But, as I have already said, this staging of Chicago revels in the youthfulness of its ensemble, dancing and singing their hearts out.

This revival uses the original set (John Lee Beatty), evocative lighting (Ken Billington) and well-balanced, never overwhelming sound(Rick Clarke) designs, so potential audiences need not feel that they are being short-changed by seeing a touring production: it is every bit as good as one would see in London’s West End.

Highly recommended and well worth catching either this week at Bromley, if you can find a seat to buy! or on tour!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloid.

Chicago The Musical
at Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th November 2021
https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/

CHICAGO UK AND IRELAND TOUR LISTINGS 2022

MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2022
Liverpool Empire
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 14 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 19 FEBRUARY 2022
Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 21 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2022
The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
www.southendtheatres.org.uk
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 28 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2022
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
www.everymantheatre.org.uk
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 8 MARCH – SATURDAY 12 MARCH 2022
Milton Keynes Theatre
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 14 MARCH – SATURDAY 19 MARCH 2022
Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 21 MARCH – SATURDAY 26 MARCH 2022
Regent Theatre, Ipswich
www.ipswichtheatres.co.uk
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 28 MARCH – SATURDAY 2 APRIL 2022
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
www.aberdeenperformingarts.com
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 5 APRIL – SATURDAY 16 APRIL 2022
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin
www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 19 APRIL – SATURDAY 23 APRIL 2022
The Orchard Theatre, Dartford
www.orchardtheatre.co.uk
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 25 APRIL – SATURDAY 30 APRIL 2022
Bristol Hippodrome
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 2 MAY – SATURDAY 7 MAY 2022
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Russell Watson – Billy Flynn, Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 10 MAY – SATURDAY 14 MAY 2022
Leeds Grand Theatre
www.leedsheritagetheatres.com
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 17 MAY – SATURDAY 21 MAY 2022
New Wimbledon Theatre
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 23 MAY – SATURDAY 28 MAY 2022
Manchester Opera House
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 31 MAY – SATURDAY 4 JUNE 2022
Sunderland Empire
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 6 JUNE – SATURDAY 11 JUNE 2022
Grand Opera House, Belfast
www.goh.co.uk
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 14 JUNE – SATURDAY 18 JUNE 2022
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
www.theatreroyal.com
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 20 JUNE – SATURDAY 25 JUNE 2022
New Theatre, Cardiff
www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

TUESDAY 5 JULY – SATURDAY 9 JULY 2022
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 11 JULY – SATURDAY 16 JULY 2022
Theatre Royal, Norwich
www.norwichtheatre.org
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

MONDAY 18 JULY – SATURDAY 23 JULY 2022
New Theatre Oxford
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly

MONDAY 25 JULY – SATURDAY 30 JULY 2022
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
www.venuecymru.co.uk
Faye Brookes – Roxie Hart & Djalenga Scott – Velma Kelly.

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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