Thursday 13 July 2017

Theatre Review: Chicago Ambassador's Theatre New York City

Chicago, Ambassador's Theatre, New York City,
Directed By: Walter Bobbie
Choreography: Ann Reinking
Staring: Mel B as Roxy Heart and Amra-Feye Wright as Velma Kelly

Chicago is a show that i'm quite conflicted about. For me it is a very stripped back show, there is not a lot of set, or costume and so as a result everything has to be slick, every hand flick precise, and the performances to sell the music ON POINT. There are so many memorable songs in this musical and they need to be done justice. So I sat in my seat ( way back in February at the bequest of my friend) with some reserve and wanting to be blown away.

The show, set in the Jazz age of America, centres around two women; Roxy Heart accused of shooting her lover and Velma Kelly, murderer, both women using their new found fame to build themselves into stardom by the way of Billy Flyn, criminal lawyer to the stars. 

The show is very much about the ideals of celebrity status and plays up to this. The crimes are made trivial and boastful, playing on the strings of the media and their influence on the way the crimes are presented. It's an idea and a situation that is almost timeless with the amount of spotlight criminal cases get still and get dragged in and corrupted by the media. 

With this you almost become fond of both characters, though I was always more of a Velma kinda Guy, Roxy is nice and all but Velma has this grit to her that I love and isn't too airy fairy the way Roxy can be played and indeed how Mel B played her. She was an interesting choice...she wouldn't be the first person I woudl have thought of for the role, but I will admit that I was intrigued to see what she did. She gave it good welly I will give her that an that's almost where it ends. The singing was...ok she can carry the songs. The accent was passable most of the time but there were so many slips and cracks that takes you out of the moment.  

One of my favourite musical Theatre songs is the Cell Block Tango and as such I have a higher expectation from it. This time it was nice, but it just didn't completely do it for me. The song is fiery, a little sexy, and overall very stylish. Its a song that opens itself up somewhat to how you interpret it and this time it went most of the way there, without fully hitting my spot. We both reached for The Gun is again another standout song and is a fun part if the musical that gives the whole cast an opportunity to shine and its really where you see the slick and comic nature that is so expertly done. Mr Cellophane has to be mentioned her, because its a tone change and one of the more raw intimate moments in the show that completely turns around your opinion of Amos Raymond Bokhour did an amazing job and was a standout on the night and needs the credit for it. 

I've seen Chicago twice now, and I think I'm done for a while..I can still listen to the music but I most definitely do not need to see it again for a while. Its a nice show, but not a standout for me. People go at this point because they know what to expect. The music is fun and the dancing is different and you can have a good night out, but when I go out I generally want a bit more!


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