Anticipation grew hours before the curtain was due to rise at the Curve theatre. For myself and features editor Jess Tilling as we couldn’t wait to be razzled and dazzled by the opening night performance of Chicago.
Dressed in our finest clothes we were welcomed by a red carpet, photographers and a champagne reception, setting the scene for a night of glamour. Champagne glasses in hand we went through to collect our ticket, where a crowd of people surrounded a live jazz band, transporting ourselves and the rest of the audience to 1920’s Chicago.
For those of you who may not know the story of Chicago, it is a musical which follows murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly’s survival and fight for fame on death row in 1920’s Chicago.
Based on the play ‘Chicago’ written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, The Curve’s production directed by Paul Kerryson, paid justice to the original through its spectacularly choreographed numbers and sensational visionary of the musical. It was a job well done by the cast and everyone involved.
As the curtain rose and the lights went down, the sultry tones of a young man introduced the play as combining, sex, violence, adultery, and prison. All things we love the most. The band, who were brilliant throughout, started to play and the great voice of Verity Rushworth, who plays Velma Kelly, began to belt her way through the opening number ‘All that Jazz’. It was sexy and sassy and true to character. Velma, one of the leading ladies in the show, was bought to life by Rushworth’s clever mannerisms and characteristics. Not only were the vocals on form, but the choreography, direction, and costumes were beautifully crafted. Within the first number we were led like moths to a flame, drawn into of a world of sin, sex, and violence.
As the first act continued the audience was treated to fantastic vocals and fluid acting from all. One of the most captivating performance’s and which stood out to me was ‘when your good to mamma’ sung by Sandra Marvin’s character Mama Morton. Sandra showed off her phenomenal vocal range effortlessly. Her performance was truly breath taking, bellowing the last note to perfection, adding that feistiness and soul which is embodied in the character of Mama Morton.
As with all plays, you have no choice other than to fall senselessly in love with the underdog. In this case it was the character of Amos Hart, played by Matthew Barrow. Barrow’s character, husband to sassy and feisty Roxie Hart (Sutton) is presented to the audience to be passive and ‘see through’, depicted to have low self-confidence and little self-worth. Barrow’s performance is both powerful and heart-breaking, leaving the audience mourning for him. His solo ‘Mr Cellophane’ was outstanding and showed a little diversity to the character, which also provides a comedic element to the play, breaking tension from the sexual and violent nature of the musical.
The first act came to a fabulous end with a duet between Roxie (Sutton) and Velma (Rushworth) portraying the rivalry between the two characters. Sutton took on the feisty role of Roxie throughout the production, which depicted the character fully. Rushworth’s Velma was equally as feisty and she effortlessly adapted herself to fit her characters change throughout the musical.
The second half kept its sex and sass that was prominent in the first act, but was slightly more light hearted and comical, creating a balance of the two, allowing the essence of the story to be explored and come alive.
One striking feature of the play was making the decision of casting the role of Mary Sunshine, the reporter, as a man. If you had no prior knowledge of this you would perhaps stay clueless throughout the musical until the reveal at the end. Adam David Bailey, who played Mary Sunshine, had a fantastic vocal range, showcasing his falsetto ability with ease and brilliance. The reveal was at first, unnecessary. However, on further thinking and discussion with Jess, we decided it was a crucial addition to the court house scene. The Lawyer Bill Flynn, played by the talented David Leonards, argued that ‘looks can be deceiving’, as he unveiled Mary Sunshine to be a male actor. This may have caused a stir in the courtroom, but it also highlighted one of the key morals of the play.
Overall the Curve’s Production of ‘Chicago’ was a sexy, comical, sassy, spirited and dazzling presentation of a classic musical. All of the elements from the cast to the backstage team worked in perfect harmony to present to Leicester an unforgettable production of Chicago.
As students, we may rarely get the opportunity to attend a theatre production due to varied limitations. However as Jess and myself experienced tonight, the Curve offers spectacular professional performances which showcase some of the best talent outside the west end.
We urge all students to try a different experience and do something a little different on a night out. Instead of going out clubbing or to the cinema, why not every once in a while attend a production put on at the Curve? The theatre has an upper hand as it is all live and it draws you in, forcing you to interact with all that you see. Curves production of Chicago is humorous, sexy and sassy; a performance which will have you craving more.
‘Chicago’ is now running at the Curve Theatre, until Saturday 18th January. For tickets and more information, please visit: http://www.curveonline.co.uk/curve.php?view=showinfo.php&showid=461