Venue: Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Date: 27th September 2018
Director: Richard Baron
Musical director: David Higham
Principal Cast: Lucie-Mae Sumner (Roxie Hart), Niamh Bracken (Velma Kelly), Carl Patrick (Billy Flynn), & Irene-Myrtle Forrester (Mama Morton).
Allow me to indulge in a painfully obvious though no less pleasing pun, by telling you that this show had a whole lot of razzle dazzle. Going into this, I was as aware of the basic concept of Chicago as the next person (two women awaiting trial for murder, competing to achieve the greatest level of fame so that they may avoid execution), but had never previously seen any screen or stage versions. Now that you’ve finished gasping, I can gladly confirm that I loved it.
The story is a brilliant satire of ‘celebrity’ culture and corruption in the American justice system, with this particular production packed full of wicked wit, slick routines, and knock-out performances. Bracken was incredibly charismatic in the role of Velma Kelly, but Sumner’s Roxie Hart was the star of the show for me, pitching the blend of twisted humour and captivating magnetism required for the role perfectly.
The presence of a live 10-piece jazz band was very welcome, allowing the iconic soundtrack to really shine, whilst further evoking the sultry 20s vibe. The choreography, staging, costumes, and lighting were all equally on par, and by the end, the atmosphere amongst the crowd was practically tangible. I feel very lucky to have had a production with all the quality of a West End show see out the summer season at my local theatre.
Though I go to the theatre in general as often as I can, I’m still relatively new to musicals (this being only the third that I’ve seen in person). It’s safe to say that Chicago has certainly bolstered my love and appreciation for the medium, and fuelled my eagerness to explore more of it.