- Flora Gosling
Review: Chicago (Court Theatre)
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
As Broadway's second longest running musical, trying to re-create its legend is no mean feat. The Court Theatre's revival of the 1970's written powerhouse of a show takes a look into a woman's prison, as Roxy Hart (Nomi Cohen) is locked away for murdering her lover and tries to get out, meeting some big characters as she does. The story is not the focus of attention however, but more a means to frame the world-famous tunes, such as "And All That Jazz", "Razzle Dazzle", and "The Cell Block Tango".
And what tunes they are! Brought to life by the magnificent cast, each has more flare than the last. Cohen herself shone in every number, singing her heart out while maintaining her performance in every manipulative and gleeful expression and gesture. In between numbers it is easy to let the pace and performances slack slightly, however she never lets that happen and her doe-eyed perfection is the life and soul of the performance. Darlene Moheke is superb in her supporting role as Velma Kelly. Powerful, sassy, and quickly hubristic, her presence completely fills the stage while her voice fills the entire theatre. The hilarious contrast in her character in "An Act of Desperation" was the highlight.
It was also the highlight of Stephen Robertson's direction. The whole production is spine-tingling-ly sexy, so that unexpected twist of awkward humiliation adds to the performance no end. His direction of the ensemble, along with musical director Richard Marrett, during the numbers is fun, creative and has great attention to detail. No matter who you look at you are entertained, to the great credit of the ensemble. Take a look at their performances in ""We Both Reach For the Gun" for all the proof you need. Individually however, the ensemble were not always able to stand up to the standard set by Cohen, Moheke, and the other supporting cast. "The Cellblock Tango", though perfectly sung as an ensemble, was at times overacted during the ensemble solos. It is a small nit pick given the strength of the performances on display.
On display too was the stunning design. It works like a finely work of art, with Stephen Robertson's dazzling glittering 1920s flapper dresses and vividly coloured suits and tuxedos, and Grant Robertson's bold colours and precise coordination in lighting design, off set by Harold Moot's dark granite and exposed brick set. It works to highlight the vibrancy of the personalities and the drama against the dull and murky prison setting.
The Court Theatre's "Chicago" may not be a revolution on the original Broadway and West End productions, but there's not need for it to be. Every performance and creative contribution has been lovingly crafted like clockwork to make an incredibly entertaining show. If you miss out on seeing a musical done to perfection, you only have yourself to blame. Four stars.
Whispers from the crowd: "Best version we've ever seen, even in London! Totally sharp and wonderful."