Wolverhampton’s Essential Entertainment Guide
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It was razzle dazzle all the way as Kander & Ebb’s legendary Chicago The Musical last night made a welcome return to Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre (the show previously visited the venue back in 2016).
Set in the jazz-drenched decade of the Roaring ’20s, Chicago takes its audience into the corrupt underbelly of the Windy City, along the way showcasing some of musical theatre’s most iconic numbers.
Based on real-life events, the show centres on the character of Roxie Hart, a nightclub singer who shoots her lover. Together with her cell-block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, Roxie fights to stay off Death Row with the help of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn...
John Lee Beatty’s set is stark, to say the least. There’s a black box in the centre of the stage, which houses the show’s musicians. The action unfolds in front of them. Like the musicians, the show’s dancers are visible throughout, seated on chairs positioned either side of the stage, towards the wings. From here, the dancers spring into action and strut their stuff, afterwards returning to their seats to wait for their next call to action.
The journey begins with Velma and company taking us through two classic songs - All That Jazz and Cell Block Tango. Both perfectly performed, they set the standard for an evening of impressive dance numbers from a scantily clad ensemble. The fishnets and spandex leave little to the imagination as the performers seductively twist, turn and high-kick their way through the show.
Djalenga Scott is bewitching as Velma, while Billie Hardy, standing in for Faye Brookes, gives a gutsy performance as the manipulative Roxie. Joel Montague brings both pathos and humour to the role of Amos, Roxie’s downtrodden husband.
Drag Queen Divina de Campo is well cast as reporter Mary Sunshine, providing plenty of entertainment while also showcasing a surprisingly impressive falsetto voice.
Billie Flynn and Mama Morton - the latter is a mercenary intermediary between Flynn and his incarcerated clients - are played by Darren Day and Sinitta respectively. Although both sufficiently entertaining - Sinitta’s rendition of When You’re Good To Mama is a real highlight - their performances lack the power required to really make these two major characters come to life. That said, last night’s audience loved them - and maybe I would’ve been more impressed too if I hadn’t seen numerous other versions of the show.
Three stars. Reviewed by Patsy Moss on Monday 25 October
Posted on Fri 26 Nov