CAROLINE CULOT Norwich Theatre Royal


Norwich Theatre Royal

Leggy girls in lingerie and lace brought all that jazz and lots more to Norwich last night with the opening of the tour of the smash-hit musical Chicago.

Yes, the bottoms were taut, the legs slender and the chests out on display - and that was just the men!

What a joy to see this musical, as big as big, performed in Norwich with all its steamy erotica and well known songs that go from the fab opening number All That Jazz to other favourites such as When You're Good to Mama, All I Care About and Razzle Dazzle.

For those who haven't seen the show or the movie, it's based on real life events and sees a small-time Chicago girl, Roxie Hart, go to prison for murdering her lover. Behind bars she meets up with femme fatale Velma Kelly and, after getting taken on by lawyer Billy Flynn, hatches a plan to be set free.

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Originally directed and choreographed by Cabaret's Bob Fosse, the show has become renowned for its innovative style and sexy costumes, all in black, which consist of very little for the girls - mainly sets of bras and pants with a bit of flimsy lace. Let's just say that to be a female cast member in this show, having a bikini wax is probably written into their contracts!

The show has become so popular - with countless celebrities taking the lead in the West End show, from Denise Van Outen to Claire Sweeney and then there was the movie with Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere - it was always going to be a hard act to follow for a touring cast.

But last night was a real tour de force: no really big names but boy, the entire cast was energetic, slick, sexy and totally dedicated to pulling it off. And this came after a technical hitch meant the show started 20 minutes late.

Haley Flaherty and Dawn Spence as Roxie and Velma were just fabulous - both showed off some really awesome dancing and singing skills but also brought so much personality to the roles. They were simply a delight to watch. George Asprey made a charismatic Billy Flynn and actually looked quite like Richard Gere, only with a much better voice. And Dale Meeks, known to Emmerdale fans as Simon Meredith, as Roxie's long-suffering husband, Amos, also proved to have a really strong singing voice.

But so much of this show is down to the “chorus”, who take you on a journey that has its humour but also its black moments.

Some absolute show- stoppers included We Both Reached for the Gun, with Billy Flynn and Roxie acting like a ventriloquist and his dummy, and Class, with Velma and Mama Morton.

It's a real treat to be able to see a show of this calibre in Norwich and amazingly there are tickets left for some performances - so grab them while you can!