Chicago The Musical struts and sashays us right along into the roaring 1920s. Flamboyant, sexy and completely unapologetic, it is a great start to Base Entertainment Asia‘s exciting 2017 season for Singapore.
The story line in itself is timeless and classic. Inspired by real life persons, it revolves around two murderesses that were sensationalised back in 1924, 1926. With headlines splashed across the Chicago Tribune, complete with scenes out of Hollywood, audience members are in for a whirlwind ride of love, deceit and greed.
Having been performed here in 2000 as well as 2010, the 2017 run injects new soul and attitude into the show. With a brand new cast from the United Kingdom and based on the original direction of its production, is third time the charm for Chicago?
The first sight greeting you when the grand curtains are raised, is the live band occupying the entire set. With the set unchanged throughout the show, the music brings the set to live and transform the atmosphere for every scene; replacing set changes. Instead of the usual aesthetic of disguising or rendering them invisible, it is impressive that the musicians are being integrated into the show. They become a living character and a presence to be reckoned with.
It is a risky decision to make as the musicians do not ever fade into the background, so it brings more challenge to the cast and ensemble to grip our attentions.
The costume design by William Ivey Long rendered aid in that aspect. While still having black as the main colour, the play on textures and cuts stood out against the stage lights. The different personalities of every character is visually portrayed. Coupled with movement and seductive choreography throughout, it is almost impossible to be distracted from the main action on stage.
The cast for this production is generally strong – extremely charismatic and have proven to be successful triple threats. Genevieve Nicole as Velma Kelly really blew us away. Sultry, glamorous and nailing every complicated dance as well as stunts in high heels, her stamina and talent is unrivaled. She commands the stage and we enjoyed every moment of her performance. Another stunner will definitely be A D Richardson as Mary Sunshine. Saying too much about this character will destroy the surprise, but hell, impressive and mind-blowing is an understatement.
The ensemble help to fill in gaps and layers of humour during the performance. Though some choreography lacked power and synchronisation, they are vital to the show and are always a burst of energy on stage. A special mention goes out to the performance of Cell Block Tango with Velma and the Finale.
Thoroughly entertaining and having encompassed everything the production stands for – humour, treachery, hot jazz and glamour, it is a production to immerse and indulge in. And believe it or not, the show still reflects our society and media of today.
For better or for worse.
Originally written for Popspoken.