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Chicago The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

Chicago is a musical set in prohibition-era Chicago, and tells a story of corruption in the administration ofcriminal justice and introduces the concept of the celebrity criminal, which was happening in Chicago in the 1920’s. In the show, Roxy has shot her lover so becomes a celebrity criminal. The irony of the desire of fame at any cost is not lost on today’s audience who can still see this desire on reality TV shows. It is juxtaposition that Chicago features an X-factor winner.

John Partridge, who plays Billy Flynn, maybe best known for Christian Clarke in EastEnders, but John is a very talented all-round performer so it feels he is rather limited in this role as he is an accomplished dancer as well as singer. Roxy is played by Hayley Tamaddon and she is gives a real warmth to Roxy and makes the character very likeable. Hayley is well known on the small screen from both Emmerdale and Coronation Street. Her Bronx accent is excellent and her petite frame makes Roxy someone you want to protect, even if she is a murderer. The other lead female in Chicago The Musical is Sophie Carmen-Jones, who plays Velma and gives Roxy a run for her money. She is beautiful and sophisticated in the role and makes us all want to bring out our inner Velma.

Sam Bailey, who plays ‘Mama’ is best known as winning the X-Factor in 2013. She has a fantastic voice and in the role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton and was very believable. She was completely transformed in this role and the wig she has to wear really makes her unrecognisable, almost like a cross between Bette Midler and Clare Balding, rather than the stunning Sam in real life. Her numbers were beautifully performed.

The Orchestra takes pride of place on the stage and they were all great musicians, directed by Ben Atkinson. The set for the Orchestra takes up two thirds of the stage up which did limit the options for the dancers. It would be really great to see these amazing numbers done as big numbers on a full stage with some costume changes. Alas there are no costume changes in Chicago The Musical and the audience is expected to use its imagination wildly to assume the different roles the company is playing, who are all in the same ‘cabaret’ outfits for the whole show.

The show boasts some really fabulous numbers including All that Jazz as the opening number which really sets the scene for the show, Cell Block Tango which really gives some humour alongside fantastic singing and All I care about where Billy is surrounded by white feather fans. Yep that’s what I said! (In my best Bronx accent).

I am ready for my exit music please!….

4 Stars

This review was originally published for About Milton Keynes website.

re about where Billy is surrounded by white feather fans. Yep that’s what I said! (In my best Bronx accent).

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