‘Chicago’ review

Theatre, Musicals Phoenix Theatre , Covent Garden Monday June 25 2018 - Saturday October 6 2018
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Cuba Gooding Jr (Billy Flynn) & Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart)
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Cuba Gooding Jr (Billy Flynn)
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Emma Harris, Nicola Coates, Chelsea Labadini, Michelle Antrobus, Natalie Bennyworth & Frances Dee
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Josefina Gabrielle (Velma Kelly)
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart) 
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart) & Josefina Gabrielle (Velma Kelly)
 (© Tristram Kenton)
© Tristram Kenton Sarah Soetaert (Roxie Hart)

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Cuba Gooding Jr makes a likeable West End debut as the deathless Kander & Ebb long-runner returns

Kander & Ebb’s ‘Chicago’ is, in a certain light, an unlikely West End long-runner. Jagged, cerebral, jazz-inflected and cynical, it is much darker and weirder than its fellow distance-going hits. Gone the distance it has, though: the 1996 Broadway revival of the sardonic ‘20s-set show is still on over there and lasted almost 15 years in the West End before having a lie-down for a few years.

Great original reviews, an iconic design, the successful 2002 film version and general good fortune have played their parts. But regular infusions of celebrity blood have accounted for a lot: by the end of its last West End stint it had entered a semi-zombiefied state, a smart, sophisticated musical now propped up by household names who rarely had the chops to do it justice.

Thus it proves upon its return. Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr has been cast in the role of louche lawyer Billy Flynn. He’s... okay. He can’t really sing but he has a rumpled, unaffected charisma that at least makes him likeable. His presence hardly feels like event theatre, though: he’s here to get bums on seats, not fuck with the show’s formula.

Experienced musical theatre performers and ‘Chicago’ veterans Sarah Soetaert and Josefina Gabrielle hold down the main parts of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, feuding femme fatales in Prohibition-era Windy City. And they’re solid: the show retains a classy edge and strong fundamentals, not least because of the high kickin’ choreography, styled after that of the show’s original director Bob Fosse.

But in many other respects, it’s starting to show its age. The aggressively sexy/‘sexy’ black mesh costumes feel like the paraphernalia of a bygone, lairier era. The commentary on the relationship between infamy and actual fame feels somewhat unsophisticated in the age of Trump. And like Stephen Daldry’s production of ‘An Inspector Calls’, it just feels like it’s cock-blocking fresh takes on a piece that’s really too smart to spend the rest of eternity locked in 1996.

By: Andrzej Lukowski


Venue name: Phoenix Theatre
Address: 110
Charing Cross Road
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Road
Price: £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins
Event phone: 0844 482 9673
Event website: http://www.nimaxtheatres.com
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    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets
    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets
    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets
    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets
    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets
    • Phoenix Theatre £26-£66. Runs 2hrs 25mins Buy tickets

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 person listening

Chicago is a classic musical and it was nice knowing what to expect and not being disappointed.

There's nothing remarkable about this version of Chicago and it would have been nice if the stage production was a little grander but I found it to be incredibly entertaining. If you are familiar with the show then I can see how it could feel dated but for me that was part of the appeal.

Plus it was a bonus to see Cuba Gooding jnr on stage and he did not disappoint.


And about Chicago the musical.

In my view it's overrated and outdated. It's still a good musical but the WOW factor is missing. I know that this production runs for more than 20 years but they could have re-looked at the staging and costumes. It doesn't have to be all black/red coloured. And the huge orchestra podium which occupies the whole stage? All is left for the performers is a narrow strip at the edge of the stage. They could have done something more clever. Cuba Gooding was good and so were other actors, it's not their fault that the production is a bit flat. I enjoyed the show but not as much as expected.

My friend took me to see this show.. I went in blindly as I'd never seen the movie or any kind of remake/adaptation of it whatsoever.

I thoroughly enjoyed it!!! The songs were catchy and the women danced very well.

My only criticism would be that there wasn't enough effort staging wise. I would've loved to see different sets and costumes but they remained the same the whole time.

My friend said the movie was better but since I havent seen the movie this hit the spot for me :)