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Chicago The Musical

Review by John Murray

As Britain’s Got Talent has closed for another year (who would have thought a magician winning) and Big Brother opens (yawn) I often wonder what happened to the other recent winners. Susan Boyle and One Direction must surely be the most successful reality non-winners while Olly Murs, Girls Aloud and Little Mix have already made substantial careers while still not taking the crown on these shows. Winner Gareth Gates though has had great reviews in musical theatre with Footloose and Mad About The Musicals tour while Alexandra Burke from X-Factor had rave reviews in The Bodyguard and returns to Edinburgh in April next year in the Sister Act tour. This week the former prison warden and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey plays Matron ‘Mama’ Morton alongside Dancing On Ice winner and Coronation Street star Hayley Tammadon as Roxie Hart in Chicago The Musical with credits like 6 Tony, 2 Olivier, 1 Grammy, 2 Bafta & 6 Academy Awards.

What a build up and what a show it was straight from the opening opus All That Jazz with a full swing orchestra on stage and with glamorous burlesque girls and guys choreographed in perfect harmony there was something for everybody. Based on real life events back in the roaring 1920s, nightclub singer Roxie Hart shoots her lover for cheating and along with cell block rival, double-murderess Velma Kelly, they fight to keep from a death row hanging with the help of smooth talking mercenary lawyer, Billy Flynn.

The pace of the show was remarkable with bare chairs as the only props, big vocal moments for Sam Bailey as Mama Morton and John Partridge as Billy Flynn and charismatic commanding leads from Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie and Sophie Carmen-Jones as Velma Kitty. Ht Money Rag and Razzle Dazzle were worthy highlights in the second half but the full company deserve credit for an impeccable production.

Till Saturday June 18th at Edinburgh Playhouse

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