Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Raunchy and raucus

Chicago

touring company , Venue Cymru, Llandudno , August-10-09
Chicago by touring company Chicago is a great musical with some of the best, most cynical songs on the planet. This touring version of the current West End production has a great, raucously jazzy on-stage band and some of the raunchiest dancing you could ever hope to see.

For me all productions of Chicago are judged against the 1942 film Roxie Hart, 75 minutes of the fastest, most savagely cynical comedy, with not a song in sight, in spite of starring Ginger Rogers. And in Adolphe Menjou it has a Billy Flynn who takes the cynicism to glorious heights that most later Billy's don't come anywhere near.

Happily Gary Wilmot is an exception. His is a Billy who gets very close indeed and of course he does have the advantage of being a great song and dance man. His “Razzle Dazzle” is well night perfect, performed with just the right degree of show biz gloss whilst never letting you forget that he's singing about manipulating a jury and media opinion.

Emma Bolton's Roxie is also tremendous, switching moods in an instant. Her singing and dancing are both stunning. Twinkie-Lee Moore as Velma and Wendy-Lee Purdy as Mama Morton are also terrific and deliver one of my favourite songs, “Class”, with real – well yes- class.

Adam Stafford's put-upon Amos is lovely, his “Mister Cellophane” is one of the show's highlights. I also enjoyed G E Weaver's wide-eyed innocent reporter Mary Sunshine. Nor must I forget the girls of the prison delivering the “Cell Block Tango” with ferocity and perfect timing.

This is by far the best cast I've seen in Chicago's current manifestation. Do give yourselves a treat though, keep an eye open for Roxie Hart the film, you won't find it a wasted 75 minutes.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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