REVIEW: Chicago at Liverpool Empire 02/07/12

One of the most successful stage musicals of all time Chicago called in to the Empire Theatre this week as part a UK tour. Having only previously seen the 2002 screen adaptation Rich Denton joined the audience for opening night and ‘All That Jazz’

It was clear on arrival at the Empire that tonight’s performance would be watched by a predominantly female audience. Not surprising as the storyline follows a number of women (and two in particular) who are locked up after killing husbands or lovers and their subsequent attempts to slip from the legal system under the cover of celebrity status. The line “He had it coming” from early number Cell Block Tango simply adds fuel to the fire and earns a nervous look over my right shoulder.

Taking its inspiration from the corrupt nature of 1920’s American justice system this musical has won awards around the world and it’s clear to see why with great songs accompanied by fantastically well timed choreography throughout.

For such an intricate musical, the set was surprisingly understated with the orchestra taking up a large chunk of the stage and the ensemble cast using every inch of the remaining space to run, dance and flip into.

The inimitable Roxie Hart (a role made famous on screen by Renée Zellweger) is played by Ali Bastian. The Roxie role is a big one to fill and early on seemed a bit too big for the former Hollyoaks actress, to be fair though she was overshadowed by former Coronation Street star Tupele Dorgu playing fellow jailmate Velma Kelly. Tupele gave the strongest performance of the night and provided some laughs along the way with some well crafted moves.

Stefan Booth was slick and controlled in his portrayal of lawyer Billy Flynn adding plenty of ‘Razzle Dazzle’ to the show. Crowd favourite Bernie Nolan gave a solid performance as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton but lacked a bit of conviction in her acting between belting out the numbers.

The show picked up pace towards the end of the first act and the cast grew into their roles as the evening progressed. Highlight of the show, the ventriloquist act “We Both Reached for the Gun” bringing out the best of the Hart/Flynn (Bastian/Booth) double act.

There were cameo roles for Musical Director Adrian Kirk and his band which brought cheers from the audience along with special appreciation for Jamie Baughan playing Roxie’s loyal but long suffering husband Amos.

A thoroughly entertaining night of musical theatre with a show that uses few gimmicks and concentrates on the important things… song and dance. I will be checking the knife drawer before I go to bed tonight though.


CHICAGO runs at the Empire until Sat 7th July with tickets starting from £10


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.