Review: Chicago at Grand Opera House, Belfast

It’s a musical theatre classic; the stuff of legend, with those distinctive Fosse moves and iconic music.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

The first time I saw Chicago was in London many years ago in a matinee performance and I didn’t get the hype, but that was a crazy day for us because we left the theatre and went to straight to a Janet Jackson concert in Wembley then from there to a City centre club where The Nolans were performing. Hectic.

I’ve seen it a few times since then and I most definitely appreciate it much more these days. It’s a sexy sassy show with a touch of humour and a look at how a good ‘Billy Flynn’ can change the narrative of your story and convince a jury on why you didn’t do it.

What an incredible cast, a cast that seems to evolve as it tours around the UK in 2022. On opening night we had:

Roxie Hart – Billie Hardy

Amos Hart – Jamie Baughan

Velma Kelly – Djalenga Scott

Matron ‘Mama’ Morton – Sinitta Malone

Billy Flynn - Liam Marcellino

Mary Sunshine – B E Wong

What a lineup! Sinitta (she has a surname!) arrived on stage to a whoop from the audience and didn’t disappoint, we had Liam Marcelino as Billy Flynn and Billie Hardy as Roxie Hart. For me I loved Djalenga Scott as Velma, there was just that something special that shone on stage, but that’s not discounting any of the cast at all… because I’m in awe. Billie Hardy was more than a hint of Lady Gaga, and that’s a big yes from me.

Special shoutout to Amos Hart played by Jamie Baughan…we see you and appreciate everything  you have to contribute to the world. Mr Cellophane would just break your heart.

Metro in London said Chicago is the “sexiest musical ever”, and how could anyone disagree. It is, and then some.

Chicago is one show-stopping song after another, you’ll know them all, including “Razzle Dazzle”, “Cell Block Tango”, and “All That Jazz”, winner of countless awards and loved worldwide for its sass.

It really would be criminal to miss it this week in the Opera House.

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