Chicago was choreographed by the legend Bob Fosse in 1975 and has had countless revivals in its time. It’s still Broadways’ longest running American musical. Fosse’s movements are small, compact and built on his imperfection such as pigeon toes and hunched shoulders. Even so, it uses every muscle in your body. Some of the most famous of performers, such as Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, have used Fosse as inspiration for their choreography.
Chicago follows a group of incarcerated female murderers, the two principals being Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart. Kelly has been awaiting trial for a while when we meet her, but when Roxie rocks up with a new, exciting murder and story, Kelly’s time in the spotlight diminishes. Billy Flynn, their lawyer, who is famous for twisting these murderesses stories to fake their innocence only concentrates on one thing: money. He doesn’t care who is getting the attention, as long as there’s money in his pocket. We watch love and lies untangle between lovers and friends until it backfires for Roxie, and the fame she dreamed of vanishes before her eyes.
The ensemble of dancers are all beautiful – the principals run the narrative, but the story would not be successful without the ensemble. One of the stand out moments is the Cell Block Tango, in which 6 of the women, including Velma Kelly, explain how they got locked up in their own twisted truths. The show is worth going to see for this song alone.
However, it sometimes feels as though the dancers get a bit complacent with their movements and the size of the stage with the entire orchestra taking up two thirds of the floor means it all restricted. Despite the restricted space, the orchestra being on stage is one of the best elements of the production – it’s refreshing for musicians and the conductor to get this visibility. Watching them have such a blast on stage is infectious. Alexandra Burke is a fabulous Roxie and, despite the potential for things to go wrong when a big name is in a show like this, with its specific style of movement.
Her voice has a gorgeous tone which suits the mysterious nature of the part, and she’s mastering Fosse’s choreography so well. She takes to the West End with such ease, yet again. Duncan James is good, however he doesn’t look as comfortable with his role as Burke. What Chicago lacks in wild set and colourful costumes it makes up for in class and style. It’s a slower musical with very few fast paced numbers, but the talent on that stage is first class and Fosse’s choreography, along with Kander and Ebb’s writing, is timeless.
The West End will miss this show. Go and grab yourself tickets in its final months!