When? Saturday 11th February 2012
Where? Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, stalls
Who? Ali Bastian, Stefan Booth, Tupele Dorgu, Bernie Nolan, Jamie Baughan, Alex Weatherhill, Chloe Ames, Jennifer Hilton, Ian Oswald, Daniele Arbisi, Matt Krzan, Claire Rogers, Karen Aspinall, Dominic Lamb, Ashley Rumble, Nick Blair, Kate Morris, Adam Salter, Melanie Cripps, Genevieve Nicole, Gregor Stewart
A very special gala night at the Bradford Alhambra welcomed the opening of the 2012 UK Tour of Chicago last Saturday – and what a night it turned out to be. Chicago is very much a show I hold near and dear to my heart, and one I have spoken about at length previously. I am delighted to say therefore – that even with my most critical eye on – this tour is an absolute joy to behold from sizzling start to perfectly executed finish.
Chicago is a show that lives or dies by its cast, and this all-new cast assembled for the 2012 UK Tour is the finest I have seen in my many visits to Chicago over the years. Ann Reinking’s dazzling choreography (brought to life by Gary Chryst) continues to do the late great Bob Fosse proud. Leading the cast are television actors Tupele Dorgu, Ali Bastian and Stefan Booth who are equally superb heading up the strong company. The pacing and ‘feel’ of this tour are spot on; Scott Faris’ direction, based on Walter Bobbie’s earlier work, is a masterclass in humour versus reality. The cast mostly play it straight, giving the characters an edge which is so often missing and bringing a reality to the frivolity of the piece – without subduing the actors keen performances. Dorgu’s ‘All That Jazz’ is as tight and forceful as anyone I have heard; Ali Bastian’s ‘Roxie’ is dripping with ego and plenty of laughs and Stefan Booth’s ‘We Both Reached for the Gun’ is an absolute blast and possibly the strongest number of the night. But then, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy; even Mary Sunshine’s momentum-stopping number ‘A Little Bit of Good’ is actually worthy of its spot, thanks to a fun performance from Alex Weatherhill. I simply can’t imagine a more fitting Amos than Jamie Baughan – the mixture of pathos and humour gives the character the gravitas that previous cast members simply haven’t achieved. ‘Mr. Cellophane’ is the perfect culmination of an outstanding performance from Baughan.
The dancing is some of the tightest I have ever seen from a mainstream musical theatre show. The entire company of triple-threat performers should be extremely proud of what they have achieved. The cracking band, led by Adrian Kirk, do not miss a beat and interact wonderfully well with the cast giving the show an unusually well-rehearsed and care given feel. This tour is a stronger, tighter production than the West End production – with its constant chopping and changing of cast, and notorious lack of rehearsal time – I would go so far as to recommend Londoners who want to see Chicago travel and see this tour instead.
See it while it’s hot – this tour of Chicago is as good as it gets.
Chicago plays the Bradford Alhambra until 18th February 2012 and then tours nationally.
- Harry Zing