REVIEW: Chicago, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until August 13

Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago.
Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago.

Murder, corruption, jazz and liquor – Chicago is the sexiest show around.

Set in early 20th Century Chicago, we meet the women of ‘Murderess Row’ in the Cook County Jail.

Vaudeville performer Velma Kelly (Sophie Carmen-Jones) has murdered her husband and sister after finding them in bed together, and Roxie Hart (Hayley Tamaddon) killed her lover when he tried to leave her.

Now they’re competing for headlines in the tabloids, the attention of slick lawyer Billy Flynn (John Partridge) and their freedom.

The show is dark and brooding, slick and sexy.

The scantily-clad female dancers have legs for days and the men have abs you could grate cheese on – it’s a sensual feast for the eyes.

Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart and John Partridge as Billy Flynn in Chicago.

Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart and John Partridge as Billy Flynn in Chicago.

Carmen-Jones is electric as Velma. Kicking off the show with famous number All That Jazz, she packs a punch with her performance, and her rendition of I Can’t Do It Alone was fantastic.

Cell Block Tango, performed by Carmen-Jones and a group of fellow prisoners, was one of the real stand-out moments.

A fantastic aspect of the show is how much a part of it the live band is. So often, the musicians are hidden beneath the stage and out of sight, but that’s not the case in Chicago.

They’re a huge part of things, and the conductor Ben Atkinson really goes for it, dancing and getting the audience revved up – make sure you stick around at the end to see the show out with them.

The big music is fantastic, and seeing the band perform so enthusiastically made it even more incredible.

Tamaddon is fantastic as Roxie. She’s feisty and funny, and shows off her great voice with songs Funny Honey and Roxie.

I wasn’t sure about Partridge as Billy at first, but he totally won me over during number All I Care About with a huge and impossibly-long note.

The court room scene which sees an over-the-top dramatisation of the fight for the gun between Roxie and her lover was fantastic.

The one-man jury, with a cast member swapping seats and personas every couple of minutes, was hilarious.

Much of the stage is taken up by the band, meaning the rest of the set is quite simple, but they do so much with it. The lighting plays a huge part as well, creating prison bars and the brooding atmosphere brilliantly.

Songs like We Both Reached For The Gun and Razzle Dazzle were fantastic.

Neil Ditt was super lovable as hopeless sap Amos, Roxie’s husband.

My heart broke for him during his number Mister Cellophane – I definitely noticed him.

Choreography in the show is slick and sexy and it’s a real spectacle.

It’s set in a time when attractive women killers were celebrities and crime was a form of entertainment.

Make sure you take a visit to Murder Town.

Chicago runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, August 13. Click here to book tickets.