“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all these things we hold near and dear to our hearts.” So begins Chicago, which gives an indication of the heart of darkness bubbling away under this musical treat, which reaches Edinburgh as part of a UK tour.
Based on real life events back in the Roaring Twenties, it focuses on nightclub singer Roxie Hart who has shot her lover, and her cell block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, as they bend to the will of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in the hope of escaping the noose, and cashing in on the notoriety and new found celebrity their murderous deeds have brought them.
With lyrics and music by Kander and Ebbe, and choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, Chicago has class stamped all over. And this Broadway revival has enjoyed phenomenal success since it first premiered in 1996.
Now it returns to Scotland starring Ali Bastian as Roxie and Tupele Dorgu (“Legs” from Corrie) as Velma, and this incredibly slick, firecracker of a production doesn’t disappoint.
In fact I’d go so to far as to say Chicago is the best musical production that has pitched up in Scotland this year, and one It would be a crime to miss out on.
One of the great things about Chicago is its pace. You really do get plenty of bang for your buck here, as a succession of attention grabbing, toe-tapping numbers are rolled out one after the other. And for the most part all concerned embrace Fosse’s choreography and Kander and Ebb’s songs with gusto.
The songs of course are terrific. And it seems almost churlish to try and pick out highlights on the night. Showstoppers in the first Act include Velma and the Girls ballsy “I didn’t do it” Cell Block Tango; We Both Reached For The Gun and Roxie and Velma duet I Can’t Do It Alone.
Yet while Bastian makes for a credible Roxie, (her voice getting stronger the longer the show goes on), and Dorgu is simply on fire throughout as Velma, the number that brought the house down came in the second Act as Roxie’s sap of a husband Amos faces up to being the little guy always getting pushed around and ignored, in Mr Cellophane
Elsewhere Stefan Booth could do with a bit more swagger and teflon charm as smooth –talking, legal eagle Billy Flynn. (Booth’s rendition of Razzle Dazzle needs more of exactly just that). But Bernie Nolan is fine voice during her cameos as corrupt county jail matron, “Mama” Morton, and the overall effect is a sexy, sassy show that’s as slick as a death row lawyer out to make a killing defending his clients.
Chicago, Edinburgh Playhouse until Sat. Tel:0844 871 3014