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Chicago

20 December 2019 | 11:27 am | Irene Bell

"['Chicago'] is delightfully sinful with every song more iconic than the last." Pic by Jeff Busby.

Chicago may be the greatest musical ever written. This production of Chicago is a spectacle, a love song to musical theatre lovers and a wonderful way to close off the year. 

Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a murderer and, unfortunately for her, a mediocre performer, who kills her lover, and Velma Kelly, a vaudeville star who swears she didn’t kill her cheating husband and sister. The show is delightfully sinful with every song more iconic than the last.

Alinta Chidzey is great as Kelly. She plays the character like a cat with the sharpest claws – her physical performance was strong and alluring, while her singing filled the entire room. She often stole the show (or kept it going). 

Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Hart takes a while to warm up, overpowered by the awesome presence of the ensemble, but once everyone leaves the stage and she is left to deliver her monologue and sing Roxie she is undeniably in control. Her visual gags and her effortless tonal shifts are like clockwork – you don’t know who is leading who, her or the live band. 

Rodney Dobson is wonderful as the meek Amos Hart, with a perfectly calm and sweet performance. He's a sweet relief and provides a moment to breathe in a world that is nothing but intense. 

Casey Donovan’s caricature-like performance of Matron 'Mama' Morton doesn’t inspire. Her vocal performance is undeniably good but her acting just seems to scream, “Look, it’s Casey Donovan playing Mama Morton.”

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Jason Donovan is dull as Billy Flynn. Unfortunately, to play the devil you can’t fake seduction and nothing he did was enticing. 

Famous performers aside, the real heart and soul of this production was the ensemble, as well as the band and the staging. The ensemble were as tight as the pants they were wearing. They were a joy to watch and coloured the entire show. 

Visually Chicago is great fun. The minimal costumes and the glamorous use of lighting and smoke make every scene wonderful to look at. 

You really can’t go wrong with Chicago. The songs are incredible, the humour is there, the story is delightful and a safe gateway into fantasy. Despite a couple of weak performances, the Australian cast mostly do a wonderful job bringing these iconic characters to our stage.