REVIEW: Chicago wows at the Forum

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From the moment the music started and the stark black stage, set in a gold frame, revealed itself, Chicago proved to be as sleek a production as I have ever seen in the Millennium Forum, or indeed on any stage

The sassy and sultry musical arrived in town on Monday night to a packed house. Set in the prohibition era, Chicago retells the story of murderess Roxie Hart and her bid to clear her name - and gain a certain form of notoriety in the process.

In jail she has to compete with the sensation that is Velma Kelly - who stands accused of a double murder - and the pair enlist the help of dashing and dazzling lawyer Billy Flynn to earn them their freedom.

With a scathing take on the cult of celebrity, the power of the press (and how it can be manipulated) and a little bit of intrigue, murder, lust, adultery and blackmail, the show moves at a pace from start to finish.

When a show starts with a highlight such as ‘All That Jazz’ it has a lot to live up to, but this show kept me enthralled as each and every song was delivered with style, finesse and enthusiasm.

Tupele Dorgu was a star turn as Velma Kelly, delivering ‘All That Jazz’ as if she was made to sing that song. She was as far removed from the cobblestones of Coronation Street as can be. Her sass and wit was clear throughout, as were her dancing skills. But when it came to a vocal performance it was her rendition of ‘Class’ alongside a very capable Genevieve Nicole as Mama Morton (Bernie Nolan having taken ill) that showed the truth strength of her voice.

Stefan Booth, perhaps best known to audiences as Greg in EastEnders, was suitably dapper as smooth-talking law man Billy Flynn. His performance of ‘All I Care About it Love’ was fabulous - funny, suitably smarmy when it needed to be and exceptionally smooth.

And when it came to giving them the old Razzle Dazzle, he also impressed.

The support cast were outstanding, although the sight of the female dancers in their skimpy costumes was enough to put me off my treat size bag of Malteasers and vow to get back on the diet.

The dance moves, in the inimitable style of the great Bob Fosse, were nothing short of amazing. At times as the dancers moved around the stage it was hard to find a focus point as just so much was going on, but when they moved in unison, not a beat was missed.

It may well have been the slickest dance performance I have ever seen.

But for me the star of the show was Ali Bastian as Roxie Hart. Not only did she deliver a first-rate performance (her duet of ‘They Both Reached for the Gun’ with Stefan Booth being incredible), she looked as if she was enjoying every moment on stage. Her enthusiasm for the role was infectious and delightful to watch and her dance moves were impeccable.

The one low point in a great evening, and it has to be mentioned, was the poor response of the local audience who were very reserved in their response to such a first class show.

Chicago runs at the Forum until tomorrow night. To book call 71264455.