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07th Apr 2022

REVIEW: Chicago is still the sexiest musical ever

Rory Cashin

The Broadway classic has a limited run in Dublin this month.

As the opening lines of the musical go:

“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery… all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”

There is something about Chicago that makes it stand out from the crowd in terms of classic musicals, and that basically comes down to the fact that we’re watching bad people doing bad things, and we’re actively rooting for them to get away with it.

Our hero is a woman who murders her boyfriend and ends up in jail when the husband refuses to take the fall, and she’s surrounded by fellow killers, and those who aren’t murderers are as corrupt as they come.

The old adage is that bad guys have more fun, and in Chicago, pretty much everyone is the bad guy, which is why the fun is magnified, matched with a killer soundtrack and unique setting.

While younger audience members might only know the story from the 2002 big screen Oscar magnet, the stage musical has actually be around since 1975, itself set in the 1920s.

The music and visuals of the production brilliantly evoke the jazz-band, smoke-filled, danger-around-every-corner that we’d imagine a mob-filled Chicago must’ve been like back in the day.

Of course, as our leading lady Roxie (a brilliantly layered Faye Brookes) and her direct competition for the headlines Velma (Djangela Scott, barely disguising the desperation with a thin crust of bravado) try to lure in both the city’s best lawyer Billy Flynn and prison matron Mama Marton (Sheila Ferguson bringing some old school diva energy), the way to get that attention is through the magnificently sexy musical numbers.

And it is here that the musical really flies.

While pretty much everyone knows ‘And All That Jazz’, it can be overlooked just how many absolute bangers fill the runtime:

‘Cell Block Tango’ manages to be a sexy AND funny song about different ways to kill your lover, ‘When You’re Good To Mama’ has incredible fun linguistically backflipping around double entendres, while the show-stopping highlight ‘We Both Reached For The Gun’ marries brilliant physical comedy with, y’know, getting away with murder.

The entire cast shimmy and shake their way through each of the jaunty numbers – even the normally depressing inclusion of ‘Mr. Cellophane’ is played for more comedic value here – so that during the slower songs, time to give both them and us a moment to catch our breath, every inch of the stage is being utilised in the best possible way.

Tickets for Chicago start at €21, with the show running at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until Saturday, 16 April.

Images via Bord Gais

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