REVIEW: Chicago The Musical

What:Chicago The Musical
Where: The State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne

Performances run until February 23, 2020
For more information, please visit
https://chicagothemusical.com.au/

A truly iconic musical, Chicago has graced the stages of Melbourne many times in the past, but this current revival, just having opened in Melbourne after sell-out runs in both Sydney and Brisbane, will surely rank amongst the very best of them.

A darkly comic tale conceived by John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics) and Ebb and Bob Fosse (book) in 1975, Chicago was a hit when first staged but only really attained its iconic status upon a 1996 revival on Broadway, a run that is active to this day, 23 years later.

Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Roxie Hart

A monster hit film adaptation, winning the 2002 Oscar for Best Film, followed, and it is now known as truly one of the most famous and popular musicals of all time.

Set in the 1920s, Chicago is the tale of the sweet and not-so-innocent Roxie Hart (Natalie Bassingthwaighte), who longs for a career in showbiz just like the extravagant Velma Kelly (Alinta Chidzey), but finds herself in the clink after shooting her lover and to her surprise learns that her notoriety is an ideal path to stardom. Enter Billy Flynn (Jason Donovan), a crusading lawyer just as fame hungry as Hart is, who pounces on her case as a way to get his own name in the papers as he turns Roxie’s trial into a three-ring circus.

From the show-stopping opener All That Jazz to the rousing finale, this production is a delight for the senses. The staging is quite unique, with the 15-piece orchestra on-stage throughout, housed in a framed structure and frequently interacting with the cast, a device that adds some clever moments of humour, particularly when Roxie wanders over to proudly show the musical team the newspaper headlines about her.

Chicago has no shortage of scene-stealers, and both Casey Donovan, as the kindly prison warden Mama Morton, and Rodney Dobson, as Roxie’s sad-sack husband Amos, shine in two smaller but no less memorable roles, with both actors knocking it out of the park.

Alinta Chidzey as Velma Kelly

Casey Donovan was a fan favourite on opening night, and received the most rapturous applause of any cast member. Dobson also effortlessly won over the crowd, turning what could have been a one-note character into one with surprising pathos, and his rendition of the sad but sweet Mr Cellophane was a highlight.

Bassingthwaighte, brimming with experience as an actor and singer, is wonderful as Roxie, conveying the perfect mix of vulnerability and brashness that the character demands. Jason Donovan (in a role played by his father Terence back in 1981) is perhaps a bit overshadowed by the rest of the cast, perhaps not as strong vocally as his fellow castmates and coming off as slightly flat in the role.

To be fair though, Tom Burlinson played the part in both the Sydney and Brisbane productions, and Jason is a newcomer to the cast for the Melbourne run, so it’s possible he just needs a bit of time to gel with his castmates and will surely grow into the role as the show’s run progresses.

Jason Donovan as Billy Flynn

My personal favourite number has always been Cell Block Tango, in which Kelly and a group of fellow prisoners explain the violent circumstances that put them in the joint, is done exceptionally well here, with the cast really playing up the darkly comedic tone of the brilliant (and brilliantly catchy) lyrics. Anyone who has seen this will no doubt have “Pop. Six. Squish. Uh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz” appear in their head at least once after seeing this. A close runner-up is another gem in which Chidzey really shines, a so-called “act of desperation” entitled I Can’t Do It Alone, which is a tour-de-force of choreography and stage presence.

For a show like this, the choreography should wow the audience and this doesn’t disappoint, with all of the principals and the supporting cast absolutely mesmerising with their skill in this department. The energy never flags over the course of 2 1/2 hours, and all of the cast deserve high praise for keeping this a suitably lively experience from start to finish.

If you’ve never seen Chicago before or are an ardent fan, this new production simply demands to be seen. From the dazzling production values to the spirited performances of the entire cast, Chicago is two hours of pure razzle dazzle.

Chicago is now playing at the Arts Centre’s State Theatre until February 23.

Tinsel and Tapshoes will be taking a break due to travel plans.

We’ll return in February 2020.

Apologies for any inconvenience.
Emails will be answered upon return.

Q&A with Monica Adair

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With meaningful lyrics, emotive keys and moving, raw vocals, nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter Monica Adair brings a distinct sound to Indie-Pop. Now this North QLD songstress turned Gold Coast local is set to release her first single, Stars In The Water.

You’ve recently released your new single Stars in the Water. What has the reaction been like so far and is it what you expected?

I was so excited to hear that Stars In The Water had its first radio play yesterday. Actually, this is my first ever single so it was my first radio play ever as an artist!

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An Interview with Suzie Mathers, Akina Edmonds and Joshua Reckless from Barnum – The Circus Musical

Here is part of the group interviews from Barnum – The Circus Musical media call with Suzie Mathers (Jenny Lind), Akina Edmonds (Joice Heth) and Joshua Reckless (Tom Thumb).

What: Barnum – The Circus Musical
Where: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne

Performances run until June, 2019
For more information, please visit www.barnumthemusical.com.au

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Exclusive Album Premiere: Rusty Fords and Weatherboards by Copperline

For our second exclusive today, we’re lucky enough to have an exclusive stream of Copperline‘s debut album Rusty Fords and Weatherboards, out Monday 19th (We’ve already heard it … and we’re secretly obsessed!).

Produced by ARIA-Award winner Shane Nicholson at Sound Hole Studios on NSW’s Central Coast, the album comes after the release of the Sydney-based four piece band’s debut single and video, Woman’s Touch.

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Exclusive Video Premiere: Coming Home by Hayley Marsten

We shared photos of this talent performing at the Deni Ute Muster back in 2016, and now TaTS has the amazing honour of premiering Hayley Marsten‘s music video for Coming Home, the fourth single from her EP Lonestar.

The new video, directed by Brock Daubert of The Filmery, was filmed in Gladstone at her Nanna and Poppy’s house with her real-life friends and family playing the actors. The video sees Hayley in her old prom dress as real childhood photo’s hang down around her.

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