Theatre Review: Chicago at the Orchard Theatre, by Jaye Nolan

Razzle Dazzled in Dartford!

You can never have too many jazz hands. And this is the jazziest of dazzling jazz handed musical productions you will ever see!

Ebb and Kander’s fantastic score enraptured the audience – even if you were only familiar with the usual suspects of Cell Block Tango (He Had It Coming) All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle. In a show of many stunning vocals, Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma oozed about the stage, stealing the spotlight every time she sang.

The same tenacity and relish for her role that so endeared her to Dancing on Ice fans brought us an assured, comic performance from Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie, in a production that captured the essence of Maurine Watkins’ original satire.

Sleazy, dangerous and with a fair amount of sauce, it’s yet another top show with its roots in truth – the real life Velma and Roxie (cabaret singer Belva Gaertner and chorus girl Beulah Annan) were attacked in print by morally outraged journalist Watkins, making them instant celebrities. Assigned by the Chicago Tribune to cover the cases of Cook County’s murderesses, the two women’s stories became the inspiration for her top scoring play which is still wowing audiences whether on film or stage.

It’s a production to be savoured, from the finger snappiness of the opening number to the melancholy tones of Amos Hart’s Mister Cellophane – and some very nifty feather fan work for John Partridge’s Billy Flynn – a hero, or not? Only you can decide! The band and chorus were tight and stylish, and absolutely on the money timing wise – so slick, not a beat was missed.

Chicago is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford until Saturday 5 March. Tickets can be booked here.

Getting there: The Orchard Theatre is located right next door to Dartford Rail Station, a few minutes walk across the bridge. For drivers, parking at the station car park costs just £1.50 for the evening after 6pm.