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Chicago at New Alexandra Theatre - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Sexy Christmas Show With Celeb Line-up
Chicago has maintained its standing as one of the most iconic stage musicals of all time since its revival in Broadway 20 years ago. It's also been helped along the way by the award-winning film starring Catherine Zeta Jones.

Chicago
Chicago is the Christmas show at New Alexandra Theatre


Now the sassy award-winner returns to Birmingham to be the Christmas show at New Alexandra Theatre with a line-up of well known faces including singer Mica Paris and EastEnders star John Partridge.

Set in roaring 1920's Chicago, it seduces the audience with its jazz-fuelled songs, tantalising burlesque-style costumes and provocative storyline of hard-nosed female killers seeking fame.

It's an atmospheric show on a stark stage that is different from the film as the set doesn't change between scenes. Instead it's as though you are in a jazz nightclub watching the live band with each character taking a turn or two in the spotlight.

The story unfolds through the songs and they are great, memorable numbers like Cell Block Tango, Razzle Dazzle and All That Jazz. Added to those is sexy, sizzling choreography by Bob Fosse and adult themes, which is why the show has an age guidance of 13.

Chicago the musical, christmas shows in birmingham, new Alexandra theatre
John Partridge stars with Hayley Tammadon


Chicago starts with a bang as our first murderess, showgirl Velma Kelly, belts out steamy song All That Jazz. Velma is played by West End singer Sophie Carmen-Jones - watch out for her as she's quite a talent and about to appear in the new Disney film of Beauty and the Beast.

She's soon joined by our other leading lady Roxie Hart, played by Coronation Street actress Hayley Tamaddon. Hart is a rival cold-hearted killer on the cell block. Unhappy with her lacklustre husband, she looked elsewhere for passion but saw red when her new lover was about to leave her. Tamaddon impresses with not just her singing but the comedy side to her character.

Enter stage left, the smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn(Partridge) who represents these killers in court, relying on their notoriety in the press to help get them released. It's this cynical view of murder, greed and corruption that gives Chicago the edge over some fluffier musicals.

Partridge can really belt out a tune ( which bodes well for La Cage Aux Folles that he is touring with next year) and has a delicious chemistry with fellow former soap star Tamaddon.

Meanwhile, helping do the songs justice is soul singer and '90's pop star Mica Paris as the prison matron Mama Morton singing When You're Good To Mama with power and panache and a lovely duet of Class with Carmen Jones.

Chicago the musical, christmas shows in birmingham, new Alexandra theatre, mica Paris
Mica Paris sings with soul in Chicago


Along with its popularity, Chicago has a long line of awards to its name, scooping six Tony awards along with two Oliviers and a Grammy for this stage version. While the movie starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Rene Zellwegger and Richard Gere secured it a further two Baftas and six Oscars.

Part of that is due to the detail in every character, including those on the sidelines like Roxie's long-suffering husband Amos who has one of the best songs in Mister Cellaphane. There's also the operatic overtones of reporter Mary Sunshine.

All in all it's a satisfying romp with a ravishing soundtrack.

Chicago will razzle dazzle you with glamour, blistering show tunes and a killer storyline. Don't miss it.

RATING:

Chicago
New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham
December 12 to 31
Tickets cost £19.50 - £59.50. Call the Box Office on 0844 871 3011, for Groups of 10, call 0844 871 3031 or go online to the theatre website.
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Why? See iconic sexy musical Chicago
When: Until December 31, 2016
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Cost: £19.50 - £59.50
Your Comment
Great review of an excellent production. Just seen it at the Alex and thought Sophie Carmen-Jones (Velma) was superb. It will be interesting to see her in the Beauty and the Beast movie.
by Andy Coleman (score: 1|49) 313 days ago
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