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Roaring Razzle Dazzle in Chicago

Roaring Razzle Dazzle in Chicago

Zoë Ventoura and Lucy Maunder in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

Chicago the musical, review

Peter Rowsthorn as Amos Hart in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Peter Rowsthorn as Amos Hart in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

Roaring Razzle Dazzle

Chicago catapults us smack into the Roaring Twenties, that uproarious epoch resplendent with slick jazz tunes and even slicker murderesses who charmed the socks off juries to dance free from the gallows. Crafted by the incomparable John Kander and Fred Ebb, this musical romp is drenched in city cool and vaudevillian verve, all stitched together with the frenetic finesse of Jazz Age choreography.

Chicago is the longest running US musical

Since its bombastic bow on the Broadway stage in 1975, Chicago hasn’t just carved out its niche—it’s fox-trotted over the competition to become the longest-running American musical on the Great White Way. Imagine a stage buzzing with the thumping strains of a live big band, not hidden away in a pit, but proudly perched for all to see, blasting their brassy tunes into the hearts of the audience—a splendid spectacle, I dare say, that elevates the entire affair.

Peter Rowstorn from Kath and Kim steals the show

Anthony Warlow and Peter Rowsthorn in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Anthony Warlow and Peter Rowsthorn in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

Enter Peter Rowsthorn, a chap best known from Kath and Kim, who slips into cardigan and suit trousers to bring to life the pitiful Amos Hart, a cuckold so transparent he might as well be invisible. His rendition of Mr. Cellophane turns from mere song into a veritable theft of the limelight, his stark white gloves underscoring his earnest, albeit overlooked, existence, much to the raucous delight of the opening night crowd.

Anthony Warlow gives the ol’ razzle dazzle

Anthony Warlow and female ensemble in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Anthony Warlow and female ensemble in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

But hold your horses, for the stage teems with more stars than the Milky Way itself. Anthony Warlow, oily as a greased weasel, slides into the role of Billy Flynn, the lawyer whose every action is so drenched in charisma, you’d think he’d invented the stuff. His Razzle Dazzle is a spectacle of such beguiling charm, it practically hypnotises the audience into adoration.

Lucy Maunder spins through her scenes as Roxy Hart

Lucy Maunder and male ensemble in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Lucy Maunder and male ensemble in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

Lucy Maunder, as Roxie, spins through her scenes with a vigour so contagious you might catch your feet tapping uncontrollably. Her duet with Warlow, We Both Reached for the Gun, crackles with an electric synergy, a dance of deceit as delightful as it is devious.

Zoe Ventoura storms the stage at Velma Kelly

Zoë Ventoura and ensemble All That Jazz CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Zoë Ventoura and ensemble All That Jazz CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

Not to be outshone, Zoe Ventoura of Packed to the Rafters fame, storms the stage as Velma Kelly, whose solo I Can’t Do It Alone is a whirlwind of fancy footwork and vocal prowess that could stand alone as a masterclass in musical theatre performance. Meanwhile, Asabi Goodman, fresh off her stint as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray, dominates as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, the iron-fisted, sass-spitting warden who commands the stage with a mix of humour and heft that’s as refreshing as a slap in the face.

Asabi Goodman and Zoë Ventoura in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby
Asabi Goodman and Zoë Ventoura in CHICAGO (c) Jeff Busby

The choreography, a cheeky tip of the hat to Bob Fosse’s original genius, is reimagined with a panache that sizzles and snaps by Gary Chryst. The ensemble, along with Anthony Barnhill’s superb band, struts and frets their hour upon the stage with such exuberant élan, you’d think they’d burst right out of the theatre.

In a rollicking good twist, Chicago manages to make a cast of ne’er-do-wells and outright scoundrels into a surprisingly uplifting brigade of jazz-soaked joyriders. This isn’t just a show; it’s a rollicking ride through a world where the beats are as hot as the headlines, and the dance moves are as sharp as the knives in the back of the unsuspecting. A roaring escapade through a bygone era, Chicago enchants, enthralls, and entertains, proving itself a stalwart of the stage, where mischief and music mingle with mirth and mayhem in the most mesmerising of ways.

Chicago is playing a strict seven-week season at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre until July 28, 2024. Find out more and snatch up tickets at chicagomusical.com.au


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