BWW Review: CHICAGO at Arts Centre Melbourne
Chicago is back in Melbourne for summer, featuring classic Broadway hits and an exceptionally talented new cast. A fun night out for anyone who loves a corrupt criminal celebrity. This is one show that you don't want to miss! This revival is presented by John Frost, Suzanne Jones in association with Barry Weissler and Fran Weissler.
Most well known from the 2002 film adaption featuring Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, this Kander and Ebb musical has actually been entertaining audiences since 1975 when it premiered on Broadway, starring Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera. Directed and choreographed by Broadway legend Bob Fosse the original production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, but won none. In 1996 it had a New York revival in a concert presentation by City Center Encores!. This minimalist style presentation was directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Ann Reinking, in the style of Bob Fosse. It was so successful it was transferred to Broadway later that year with a script adaption by David Thompson and has been playing there ever since, making it the longest running American musical in Broadway history. This updated production won six Tony Awards and is what this Australian revival is based on.
With a skeletal set by John Lee Beatty, skin tight costumes by William Ivey Long and skilful lighting by Ken Billington, this production's design makes the conscious and successful choice to focus all of the audience's attention on the performers.
In this revival, Natalie Bassingthwaighte makes the quirky ingénue turned bad girl, Roxie Hart her own and sings numbers like "Funny Honey", "Roxie" and "Me and My Baby" well.
The infamous and iconic sultry role of Velma Kelly is played to perfection by Alinta Chidzey. She is a true triple threat - singing, dancing and acting magnificently. Opening the show with the ensemble in the iconic music theatre number "All That Jazz", Chidzey starts the show strong and finishes it with a bang alongside Bassingthwaighte in "Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag". Despite both these numbers being excellent, the highlight of Chidzey's performance comes near the end of the first act in her rendition of "I Can't Do It Alone". She is simply outstanding!
Jason Donovan as the silver tongued criminal lawyer Billy Flynn, does not quite meet the same mark as the rest of the exceptional cast. His performance does however strengthen after his first number "All I Care About" making the other numbers he leads, "We Both Reached For The Gun" and "Razzle Dazzle" very enjoyable.
Casey Donovan's stage presence as Matron 'Mama' Morton is phenomenal. She commands attention every time she makes an entrance and her vocal execution of "When You're Good to Mama" deserved a standing ovation. In the second act, the duet "Class" between Donovan and Chidzey is sung superbly. Rodney Dobson certainly has the audience feeling sorry for him as the sincere but naive Amos Hart in "Mr. Cellophane" and J. Furtado's falsetto singing is very impressive as Mary Sunshine
The ripped and shredded male and female ensemble members ooze sex appeal and are all exceptionally talented. Chidzey's fellow murderesses Chaska Halliday, Samantha Dodemaide, Hayley Martin, Jessica Vellucci and Romina Villafranca in the "Cell Block Tango" are a highlight. Andrew Cook as Fred Casely and the hilarious Travis Khan as The Jury also give strong performances.
Chicago is a great night out for anyone who loves a classic musical and is well worth the ticket price. For more information and to purchase tickets visit chicagothemusical.com.au