If you’re hankering after a good old night in the West End I cannot recommend Chicago enough. When the film version came out I was addicted to it, had the soundtrack and everything. I remember going to see the stage version and being a bit weirded out with the style, but on second viewing (about ten years later) I absolutely love it. I think I’d originally been expecting the stage version to be exactly like the film, but instead it’s an immensely slick and funny cabaret-style show. The band are on stage the whole time, the dancers play all the sub-characters, and there’s a fantastic audience-performer dynamic that you wouldn’t get in a more conventional musical.
I was invited to come and see the new cast update, which includes Duncan James as Billy Flynn and Alexandra Burke as Roxie Hart. I settled in to my private box (with prosecco, natch) and was blown away by some spectacular performances. This is Duncan’s second time playing slippery smooth lawyer Flynn, and he is fantastic. Alexandra was a revelation, definitely the best Roxie I’ve seen. She made the role her own, and gave her a whole new sassy feel. I remembered how much I loved the songs, and have been listening to them non-stop since I saw the show. I love the original Bob Fosse choreography in the final number, and the machiavellian scheming between the two murdering minxes, Roxie and Velma. I had a whale of a time. If this wasn’t amazing enough, we were invited to chitter chat with Duncan and Alexandra after the show. Sorry for my grainy photos, it was a bit dark. Alexandra said I could take a photo of her cute winking-face slippers, and she took matters in to her own hands and put my camera flash on for me.
They were both so lovely, and it was so sweet how close they seemed as well. When Duncan left first Alexandra was saying to him “I’ll call you later.” Duncan told me his favourite number in the show is the ‘we both reached for the gun’ bit, which is both hilarious and catchy. Alexandra’s fave is the Roxie Hart number where she gets to sing about how amazing she is. Why not, eh? If you want laughs, loud live jazz music, 1930’s sassy dames, impressive dance and physical theatre, book tickets for Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre. I think Duncan and Alexandra are in it until January, and you definitely need to see these two in these iconic musical roles.