REVIEW – Chicago at Liverpool Empire

EVERY now and then, a show comes to town which everyone wants to see. Chicago is no exception to this rule and it’s easy to see why. Set in prohibition Chicago, the show portrays the stories of ‘celebrity criminals’ which Velma Kelly and Roxy Heart at the centre of the drama they create themselves for fame and fortune from behind bars awaiting trial for murder. Well known ‘fun loving’ lawyer Billy Flynn is in high demand with a well-earned reputation for triumphing in not guilty verdicts. The highs and lows along the way for Roxy and Velma are gripping – with plenty of ego, jealousy and of course, a few musical numbers. Telling the debaucherous tale of cheating, lies and scandal at the Liverpool Empire this week are Hayley Tamaddon (Roxy), Sophie Carmen-Jones (Velma) John Partridge (Billy) and Jessie Wallace (Matron ‘mama’ Morton). Yes, three out of the four main characters are former soap stars – so what do you get when you combine Delilah from Emmerdale with Christian and Kat from Eastenders? A triumph. Seriously – who knew Kat Slater could sing?! Portraying a gorgeously demanding Matron, Jessie Wallace slipped into character perfectly, with natural stage presence and real clout. John Partridge is a charming Billy Flynn – pulling off the sleazy lawyer part with real gumption. Hayley Tamaddon brings a real playful attitude to the role of Roxy Heart making the audience laugh almost continuously with her natural, fun, flouncy way. And our only non-soap star Sophie Carmen-Jones is a true pro. Form close to finish her performance is gorgeous, bringing the real Chicago to Liverpool. This show is a real escape. Whether you’ve seen it before or not you’ll be transfixed with the great numbers such as ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Mister Cellophane’, Nowadays’ and of course, the infamous ‘Cell Block Tango’. The entire cast together bring their A-game to the stage with perfect synchronising and entertainment form start to finish. Special mention must for to the orchestra. The thing I loved most about the show was the centre part the orchestra played – with a centre stage position they were as much a part of the show as everyone else and the audience loved this. Get your bucket list out and get ‘watch Chicago the musical’ scrubbed off. This show is a must-see. Performance Information Chicago the Musical Liverpool Empire Monday 12th – Saturday 17th September 2016 Mon – Sat evenings 7.30pm, Wed & Sat matinees 2.30pm Tickets from £12 (Fees apply to online/telephone bookings) Empire Box Office ¦ 0844 871 3017 ¦ atgtickets.com/liverpool   Review by Rebecca Keegan