“CHICAGO is Entertainment with a capital E!” NEW ZEALAND HERALD
“South African company’s Chicago razzle dazzles Auckland!” NEW ZEALAND HERALD
“But, boy, does it deliver. CHICAGO is bombastic Broadway blockbuster” New Zealand Herald
“If the rapturous applause and captivated audience on opening night is anything to go by, CHICAGO’s spotlight won’t be dimming anytime soon.” New Zealand Herald
“The production team certainly knows how to use actors and dancers to great effect and has created a scintillating show filled with magic, energy and tension.” NATIONAL DAILY REVIEW
“Chicago: Great music, great singing, great dancing” NATIONAL DAILY REVIEW
“One of the best big show entertainments of the year.” NATIONAL DAILY REVIEW
“A killer chorus, exceptional choreography, razzle, dazzle and all that jazz.” DIVERSIONS
“The jury’s out – if you have the opportunity to get along, take it. It would be a crime to miss out!” DIVERSIONS
“The performers are world class, and they’ve definitely got the voices to pull off these big numbers along with the moves to match” KUWNZ Entertainment Magazine
“CHICAGO’s classic look, sound and excellent performances make it a must see”
KUWNZ Entertainment Magazine
“We are enthralled and energised for over two marvellous hours….. Get down fast. This thing moves!” THEATREREVIEW.ORG
“The staging is flawless. … The kinetic result is a show of real and rare quality” THEATREREVIEW.ORG
“Corruption, greed and murder comes to the capital courtesy of world class CHICAGO.” STUFFNZ
“It’s hard not to gush when such an opulent, slick show comes to the oft-missed Wellington but CHICAGO deserves the praise.” STUFFNZ
South African company’s Chicago razzle dazzles Auckland
Nothing ever lasts forever. No matter how long-lasting a career, a performance, a news story looks on paper, the threat that one small thing could see you disappear into the background is always right around the corner.
Those themes sit at the heart of Chicago, yet this classic production is not going anywhere fast. Right from the first notes of All that Jazz, it is clear why Chicago has lasted as long as it has. After a patchy 1975 debut, the 1996 revival is now Broadway’s second longest performance and it’s now jazz-handed its way into Auckland’s Civic Theatre.
Despite the 1920s setting, there is something ageless about this high-energy, high-stakes world of fame-seeking criminals. Carmen Pretorius is a doe-eyed delight as Roxie Hart, Chicago’s latest celebrity murderess more desperate for attention than she is for survival, while Amra-Faye Wright captures her rival Velma’s spite and repressed desperation with delicious malice.
It’s clear after the first four songs are delivered back to back that there isn’t much story here. The show makes vague comments about the media’s vapidity and celebrity culture but, as things speed from one number to the next, the focus remains on the showpieces rather than diving into these themes.
But, boy, it does deliver. Chicago is bombastic Broadway blockbuster, with an onslaught of memorable ballads that are only matched the frenetic and fabulous routines that accompany them. Razzle Dazzle, Cell Block Tango and Roxie — few shows can rival Chicago when it comes to sheer volume of show-stopping hits and there’s hardly a dud in the bunch.
That’s largely thanks to the talented cast and chorus bringing the necessary vigour and showmanship. Jonathan Roxmouth is utterly convincing as seedy, smarmy lawyer Billy Flynn, while the bold, enthusiastic chorus flip, spin, shimmy and croon their way through every single number.
Auckland is the first stop on a new world tour and shows the South African-based company has a solid grasp on this award-winning formula. The plot may be as see-through as the outfits but Chicago achieves exactly what it aims to do.
That’s to be a big, broad, show-stopping two hours of family entertainment. If the rapturous applause and captivated audience on opening night is anything to go by, Chicago’s spotlight won’t be dimming any time soon.
Where: The Civic until September 9
Reviewed by: Ethan Sills
John Daly-Peoples National Daily Review (Auckland) Fri, 31 Aug 2018Add to Saved Cont
Chicago by Fred Ebb and John Kander Civic Theatre, Auckland Until September 9.
Opera House, Wellington August 13 – 16
Chicago: Great music, great singing, great dancing
Chicago arrived in Auckland this week, one of the classiest shows of the past couple of years, with great music, great singing and great dancing. Most musicals revolve around the standard boy meets girl story. Boy meets girl, something bad happens, girl leaves boy, something good happens and they live happily ever after. Not in Chicago. Here the plotline is boy meets girl, something bad happens, girl shoots boy and lives happily ever after.
The show is set in 1920s Chicago where Roxie Hart murders her lover. She briefly gets her gullible husband, Amos, to take the blame until the police convince him that the burglar was, in fact, Fred, a friend and Roxie’s lover.
Much of the show is set in jail where Roxie is incarcerated with several other murderesses, including the famous stage performer and murderess, Velma Kelly. They are both headline hunters seeking to capitalise on pre-trial publicity for the sake of acquittal and stage careers. In the end, their tricky lawyer, Billy Flynn, manages to get them both freed.
There is not much romance in this show. None of your typical love duets or aching solos about lost love. This is about the bleaker side of love as we are told at the beginning. “It’s a story about murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery.”
As Velma, Amra-Faye Wright is incredible. Her voice seethed with passion, bitterness and cynicism while her dancing was exuberant, sophisticated and provocative. She was matched by Mary Pickford lookalike Carmen Pretorius as Roxie, who gave a subtle performance creating a character who was both winsome and devious.
Jonathan Roxmouth as the strutting, self-obsessed lawyer, Billy Flynn, provided a brilliant foil to the two main characters with a smooth line and an impressive voice. Ilse Klink as Matron “Mama” Morton gave a formidable performance with her huge voice giving her rendition of When You’re Good to Mama a grim, complex interpretation. Amos, Roxie’s husband, was played by Grant Towers with a performance that was part comic and part tragic and his singing of Mr Cellophane was full of pathos.
Virtually all the numbers were greeted with spontaneous applause by the audience, which loved the vocals and the dialogue that rippled with smart one-liners and clever observations. Also playing a major part were the minimalist costumes which provided just the right level of sophistication and sensuality.
As well as minimalist clothing, the stage set was classy and minimalist with virtually no props, just the bare stage and the orchestra taking up most of it. The relatively small chorus line – six men and six women gave an energetic, glitzy display and their dancing with large feather fans along with Billy Flynn in All I Care About is Love was a great crowd pleaser
The show is really all about sex – romance and sex, lust and sex, the exploitation of woman and sex, the manipulation of the justice system and sex and the media and sex. Along with the strong emphasis on sex, there are some social and political messages threaded into the various stories, making it more than just a superficial romp with nice tunes.
The production team certainly knows how to use actors and dancers to great effect and has created a scintillating show filled with magic, energy and tension.
The best thing about the show is you can actually hear the singers and be immersed in the music. A number of musicals over the past couple of years have had the singers over-miked and the bands have thought it was their big night out. But, with this show, the singers’ every word is heard clearly, and the band, led by the irrepressible Bryan Schimmel, never overwhelmed them – and the sound engineers were able to keep themselves in check to provide one of the best big show entertainments of the year.
Brian The Tiger hit the Civic Theater last night…..and here’s what he thought about Chicago the Musical in Auckland
Chicago the Musical Review
From the moment the curtain was raised it was clear that the musicians were to play a major role in this production. That expectation was well and truly delivered on as the story of Roxie Hart and rival Velma Kelly was brought to life for an attentive and appreciative audience.
On first inspection, you’d be forgiven for thinking you are about to watch a radio play, with the band occupying much of the stage. This, however, is exactly where they should be, providing music, sound effects, and comic relief, this talented group really could be considered the show within the show.
Rather than overshadow though, they are the perfect accompaniment to a stellar cast.
The standouts for me would have to be the perfectly cast Billy Flynn (the smooth-talking lawyer, reading straight from the handbook of Suit’s Harvey Specter), an unforgettable portrayal of the forever forgettable Amos Hart and of course our cell block rival leads. You’ll be mesmerised by all the show stoppers but the ‘cell block tango’ will always be my favourite.
This production delivers everything that you’d expect from the longest-running American musical in Broadway and West End history. A killer chorus, exceptional choreography, razzle, dazzle and all that jazz.
But something that took me by surprise was the storytelling element. Put aside the sexy smokescreen (if you dare look away) and at its core, you’ll find a gritty story based on true events masterfully told by a cast that is not afraid of holding back to draw you in, all while having fun with their audience.
There are subtleties in their approach that allow the viewer to be taken on the journey from start to finish. This culminates in a courtroom representation that may well be the most perfectly complete piece of musical theatre I’ve seen – dramatic, engaging and hilariously well crafted.
The jury’s out – if you have the opportunity to get along, take it. It would be a crime to miss out! Reviewed By Brian The Tiger