By the end of the week, the name on everyone’s lips is gonna be ‘Chicago’.
The long-running Broadway revival, first performed in 1975 and reimagined in 1996, is shimmy-shaking on stage at The Regent Theatre – where the gin is cold, but the piano’s hot – until Saturday.
Set in 1920s Chicago when the city was run by gangsters, the American musical is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, about actual criminals and the crimes on which she reported.
But the stage show we all know and adore features music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse.
And if you didn’t know Bob Fosse before the pandemic, you’ll have more than likely seen the TikTok challenge inspired by the iconic choreographer, with original pieces brilliantly performed in the musical.
The sultry show, mostly set at Cook County jail on murderess row, has been phenomenally cast. It sees none other than classical singer Russell Watson as Billy Flynn – hot shot lawyer for Roxie Hart, played by Coronation Street actress Faye Brookes, best known for playing Kate Connor in the soap.
The more mature members of the audience will remember Sheila Ferguson from the 70s trio The Three Degrees as she performs at Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.
Velma Kelly, spectacularly played by the sarcastic and sassy Djalenga Scott, opens the show. A story of “Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts”.
For those unfamiliar with the story, housewife and nightclub dancer Roxie Hart murders her bit on the side after he threatens to leave her. But no-one walks out on narcissistic Roxie.
She winds up on murderess row alongside Velma Kelly and five other women who definitely ‘didn’t do it’… but he had it coming.
In a desperate attempt to avoid a conviction, she double crosses Velma and hires slick as they come lawyer Billy, dupes the public and the press in a bid to transform her crime into hit headlines and a not guilty conviction.
Speaking of duping the public, one scene sees Russell Watson use Faye Brookes as a puppet, making sure she gets her story straight. Who knew the multi-talented artist was not just a best selling singer – but practically a ventriloquist too?
Chicago oozes glamour from the get go, opening with All That Jazz, with the live orchestra performing live on stage, becoming a much loved part of the show and a character in its own right.
Their show stopping score was at the very heart of the performance, particularly in fan-favourite pieces like the sexy and seductive Cell Block Tango, Razzle Dazzle and Hot Honey Rag – a piece where you could see the pure joy of the performance written all over Djalenga Scott’s wonderfully expressive face.
Alongside the extremely talented and likeable main cast, the 25-strong ensemble of dancers and actors held the piece together with their choreography, which they made look so easy. Every transition and lift was seamless, every movement razor sharp and there was just so much energy injected into each number.
Faye and Djalenga make a stunning and charming double act – their chemistry is electric on stage and Scott particularly was practically made to play Velma.
Sassy, slinky and seductive, Chicago offers two and a half hours of razzle dazzle, high kicks and all that jazz that you simply can’t help but click and shimmy along to.
If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it, I betcha you would have done the same.
Chicago is on at The Regent Theatre until Saturday, March 19 with tickets from £13. It would be criminal to miss it.