REVIEW: Soap stars have All That Jazz in top-class production of Chicago at Royal Concert Hall

The cast of Chicago. Photo by Catherine Ashmore
The cast of Chicago. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

The sexy and sassy musical that is Chicago brought to life the dark side of the 1920s with a stunning performance as part of a run at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall.

The production has soap stars at the heart of its cast with ex-Eastender John Partridge as smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, Corrie actress Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart and another Albert Square star, Jessie Wallace, as ‘Mamma’ Morton.

On press night star turn Wallace gave way to understudy Ellie Mitchell, but this didn’t detract from a fast-paced and dark-humoured classic that had the audience in raptures — albeit despite the bloody subject matter.

The story is well-known and revolves around nightclub singer Hart, who shoots her lover and faces the noose for her crime.

But behind bars she learns that in this town murder can be your route to fame — and she is prepared to do whatever it takes to realise that ambition.

What follows is a battle between Hart and double murderess Velma Kelly (Sophie Carmen-Jones) for the front-page headlines and the infamy that would allow them to become household entertainment names — with their victims reduced to mere footnotes.

And acting as the puppet-master, working the facts and the media, is slick Flynn. The character is ably brought to life by Partridge, who also manages to unleash what I felt was an unexpectedly high-quality singing voice shown off with one note that was held for an age.

Carmen-Jones and Tamaddon are outstanding with the former mixing supple dance moves, vocal range and stage pressence with delightful ease and the latter endearing Hart’s character to the audience with a cheekiness despite being a calculating killer! They are undoubtedly a dynamic duo who played off one another superbly.

And while there was a groan at the announcement of Wallace not performing on the night, Mitchell stepped in with ease and played the brokering foil between the inmates and the outside world with class, style and talent.

The rest of the cast played their part in a fantastic evening that was also only made possible by the accompanying orchestra who helped bring classic songs such as All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle and Mr Cellophane to life.

Chicago runs until Saturday with tickets priced from £15 to £39.50 and for more, including box office, visit www.trch.co.uk