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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

REVIEW: Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre

Kander and Ebb’s long running musical ‘Chicago’ returned to the West End earlier this year and recently introduced a new set of leads into the cast. The show is famous for a long list of hit songs including “All That Jazz”, “Mr Cellophane” and “Razzle Dazzle” to name only a few. Fans may be familiar with the 2002 film version, which remains fairly faithful to the stage show. Top billing in this instance is given to Alexandra Burke as wannabe vaudeville star, ‘Roxie Hart’ and Duncan James as the silver tongued prince of the courtroom, ‘Billy Flynn’. Stunt casting receives a lot of criticism in the press, however I am pleased to report that the current stars of ‘Chicago’ have stagecraft enough to make the show an enjoyable couple of hours.

That being said… there is no doubt that Burke is talented, but her soulful vocals feel somewhat out of place in 1920’s Chicago and she never really convinces us of any kind of struggle or character journey throughout the show. She moves well, but next to the dazzling Laura Tyrer as a pitch-perfect Velma Kelly, she struggles to demonstrate the sharpness and specificity needed for Anne Reinking’s fosse- inspired choreography. Fans of the singer will surely enjoy her performance, and it makes for an interesting change from the usual portrayal of Roxie but not necessarily appropriate to the piece as a whole.

Monday, 1 October 2018



“If it’s not right, you have to put it right” is Matilda’s motto in the vivacious stage adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel penned by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin. The show, produced by the RSC, has been a family favourite in the West End for years… and with good reason. The songs are catchy and witty, providing laughs (and tears) for both children and adults in the audience. We were invited to see the show and discuss how people might #BeMoreMatilda, which may seem an obvious answer… read books, be kinder, be humble. Those are all excellent traits that the adorable titular character possesses, however what really struck me watching the production is her utter strength and determination. How often do we find ourselves as adults questioning our own choices and feelings? How often do we allow someone to put us down even when we know it isn’t fair? 
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