Chicago – The Musical: A Review

By Mehvish Maniar
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I am obsessed.

Obsessed with a lot of things the good life has to offer.

And one of these obsessions is theatre.

As I got to the venue of the show for the night, my nerves were calming themselves down in anticipation of the deliriousness of watching a show such as ‘Chicago’ that has been one of the longest running American musicals in Broadway history.

As I looked around, I saw it was not just I, but many others who were equally fanatically in awe of what was to be experienced. Girls dressed up in their best Chicago-like costumes and on point makeup, makes one think how big and how spectacular something that was born in 1975, to be precise – is still so popular and synched in with present times.

The stage was set, the curtains lifted …to a stage almost bare. The orchestra was perched up on the proscenium, almost filling up half the stage. The subtlety and lack of props brought forward more expectation as bare-naked, stark, in-your-face actors from the left, the right and center (where the orchestra was based), prowled the stage. The explicit play of light and the almost black stage with a live orchestra offered an emboldening backdrop – almost perfect to highlight the performances of such robust characters.

One is almost done soaking in the atmosphere when the very famous, riveting and one of the best opening lines delivered by Velma Kelly – one of the protagonists of the show…

‘Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen. You are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery – all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.’

And this is the point, the exact point, when the audience, whether familiar or unfamiliar with the plot of Chicago – ‘gets it’, grasps on and is hooked.

It’s a show centering Chicago in the 1920s and is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the system. It was then penned for a play by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb.

The Plot:

Chicago centers around two characters Velma Kelly – a vaudevillian and Roxie Hart – a wannabe vaudevillian, both of whom are in jail for murder, how they are juxtaposed, each trying to get more attention than the other. Their purpose isn’t just to leave prison, but to gain fame by using the limelight from their murder trials.

The Cast:

When Genevieve Nicole as ‘Velma Kelly’ starts performing ‘All That Jazz’ – her character is delivered to the audience in that one performance – funny, sarcastic, tough, sexy and smart. Her singing voice perfectly fits the ‘alto’ style of singing and is very effective in translating her role to the people watching. Her performances, specifically ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’, when Velma takes a stand were all befitting her character.

‘Roxie Hart’ played by Lindsey Tierney, the second protagonist of the show, is the opposite of Velma. She’s innocent, sexy, foolhardy, naive, selfish and childish in many ways. When she comes on stage and starts performing ‘Funny Honey’, one can immediately see the nuances in her character – in one breath, praising her husband, and in the next, making a slandering mess of his character. One element about Lindsey’s performance that had me convinced was her strong American suburban accent, which I felt made her role more brazenly pronounced.

The toughest part of enabling the success of a show such as Chicago is the casting. In a show with two strong characters playing female protagonist slots – one has to ensure no one upstages the other. And the casting was such that both the lead actresses held their fort without managing to succumb to the desirability of the other’s role. They both came together as a strong force to be reckoned with and fashioned well alongside the rest of the supporting cast.

The Theatrical Moments To Watch Out For:

There were a great many mesmerizing moments in the production.

Cell Block Tango – where Velma and five other inmates are perched atop chairs, each ferocious in their body movements, their eyes carrying a hypnotic glow, almost beckoning the audience into their charm as they narrate one by one, the story of the heinous murder they committed through strong and witty dialogue and slick dance movements.

Another favourite for me – the conductor of the orchestra.

Though he didn’t play any role in the play itself, there was interaction between him and the actors. At the end of the musical when the orchestra plays ‘All That Jazz’ one last time, the conductor and his band go wild and entertain the audience with charming antics and almost leave them craving for more.

Chicago Is A Beauty.

A fierce force to reckon with.

Backed with flamboyant characters, slick dance moves and a smorgasbord of music styles… this production never fails to impress neither entertain.

A Show About Sin And Sinners.

Its got heartless prowess that has the sneaky faculty to get under the skin of audiences and make them side unwillingly with the murderesses in prison.

The show acutely highlights how celebrity sin gets inappropriate media attention and becomes an almost desirable state to be in, caused by an undesirable distraction.

So What Is My Verdict ?

Chicago has the pace of a movie, charm of theatre and the musical accompaniment of a good concert. It’s one of the best musical productions that I have seen – it is thus of not much wonderment that the show truly goes on and on…

Please do catch ‘Chicago’ if you are a theatre lover like me.

Event Dates and other details are given below. Tickets available on Sistic.

Event Date:

Wed, 8 – Sun, 26 Feb 2017
Tue – Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm 

Venue:

Sands Theatre
MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

Ticket Pricing

(Excludes Booking Fee)

VIP Reserve : S$175
A Reserve : S$145
B Reserve : S$115
C Reserve : S$95
D Reserve : S$65

Rating: Advisory (Some Mature Content)

8 year and below kids not allowed.

All kids above 8 and below 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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About Mehvish Maniar

Mehvish Maniar holds an MBA degree in Finance from the Institute of Business Management in Pakistan. Her eight years of working in the field of Treasury, include her work at Jehangir Siddiqui Capital Markets, Deutsche Bank and Barclays Bank. Mehvish put her career on hold after the birth of her first child; she likes to read, watch movies, listen to music and is interested in all things related to art.