If you want to be razzle dazzled by the sexiest, smartest and most stylish show in town, get down to the Hawth Theatre in Crawley this week.
The international award-winning Broadway and West End musical Chicago stars West End and EastEnders actor John Partridge as Billy Flynn and X Factor winner and real life prison warden Sam Bailey as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton.
Another face on the poster is Coronation Street star Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart, but she was missing from the first night and replaced by understudy Lindsey Tierney.
But if Tienery’s performance as an understudy is anything to go by, the audience will be in for a treat when they see Tamaddon.
Tierney more than holds her own as the fame-hungry nightclub singer Roxie Hart, who shoots her lover and along with Cell Block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly (Sophie Carmen-Jones), fights to keep from death row with the help of smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn.
What is so striking about Chicago is the Bob Fosse choreography. From the opening sequence for All That Jazz, you are mesmerised by the synchronised clean clicking of fingers and swivelling of hips (it obviously helps that everyone on stage hardly has any clothes on).
Partridge is fully clothed and he really does (literally) provide the Razzle Dazzle for the show.
From the moment he enters for All I Care About - which has some tremendous featherwork from the company - he owns the stage.
But he doesn’t overshadow the brilliant performances from Tierney and Carmen-Jones, who together have great chemistry.
Looking at Tierney’s bio in the programme, it’s clear she has been understudy in a lot of shows, but surely her time must come soon to bag that leading role - it was a hugely confident performance.
And X Factor winner Bailey clearly has a lot of fun as ‘Mama’ Morton, as does AD Richardson as Mary Sunshine.
And no review of Chicago is complete without a mention of the brilliant and heart-breaking Mr Cellophane. It always a great number to watch and Neil Ditt did it proud.
But it really is a show that benefits from all the performances - including the company and orchestra. I don’t think I have ever seen a conductor having so much fun.
The Hawth website says ‘it would be a crime to miss it’ - they are not wrong. Just to see Partridge hold that note at the end of All I Care About is worth the ticket alone.
Chicago is on at the Hawth until Saturday, June 4. For tickets - click here
Tickets: Mon-Thu: £34. Fri 5pm: £31.50. Sat 5pm, Fri & Sat 8.30pm: £39.
Recommended 13 years +
Discounts: £5 off. Groups 10 or more: £7.50 off.
Running Times: 2hr 20mins, including 20 mins interval.
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