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CHICAGO the Musical - Capitol Theatre (NSW)

Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Music by John Kander, Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse

Pulsating with dark energy, sharp wit, dazzling choreography and stunning songs, these star-studded performances are delivered with a healthy dose of cynicism and razzle dazzle!

Reviewed by Juliana Payne

Capitol Theatre, Sydney

Until July 28th, 2024

Tickets: Sydney | Chicago the Musical (

If you’re tired of the sugar-coated Disney-style musicals full of sickly-sweet, goody-two-shoes characters and songs, then have I got the solution for you. If you appreciate sharp wit, dazzling choreography and stunning songs, all delivered with a healthy dose of cynicism, then Chicago the musical is for you. The energy in this high-octane production radiates from go to whoa. Chicago’s infamous and brilliant original choreographer Bob Fosse would surely bestow his blessings on this crew. This production has been touring the country since November last year, but the performances are as fresh and sharp as if they’d just opened.

Ah – the choreography. Gary Chryst’s adaptation pays full homage to the original staged production. The lithe, brilliant ensemble dancers are nothing short of stunning, executing the Fosse-inspired moves with precision and verve. The tableaux with dancers and chairs are so recognisable from shows like Cabaret, but that doesn’t make them any less marvellous. The silhouettes are sharp, the timing is impeccable – we take our bowler hats off to the dancers.

CHICAGO the Musical (2024 Tour). Photos by Jeff Busby

With such a well-loved and familiar show, there’s big shoes to fill. Thankfully the stars and ensemble of this production do so in spades. Zoë Ventura as Velma and Lucy Maunder as Roxie make for a great yin and yang as the two murderers vying for the spotlight. Their delightfully wicked portrayals are dripping with sardonic humour and desperate ambition. Anthony Warlow brings rather more gravitas than you’d expect to the venal lawyer Billy Flynn, highlighting the very dark side of this character. Peter Rowsthorn draws on his full barrel of diffidence and meekness as Amos ‘Mr Cellophane’ Hart, and S. Valeri does a great send-up as the sycophantic gossip journo Mary Sunshine. How I wish there were more songs in the show for Mama Morton - Asabi Goodman is a joy to watch and listen to as she raunches through her big number, 'When You’re Good to Mama'.

Kander and Ebb's work remains as sharp as ever, with showstoppers like 'All That Jazz' and 'Razzle Dazzle' delivered with power and panache.

With a live band on stage throughout, the energy and atmosphere is rich and compelling. Under baton of musical director Anthony Barnhill, the mostly brass orchestra bumps, grinds and slides through the vaudeville-infused killer tunes unstintingly. Kander and Ebb's work remains as sharp as ever, with showstoppers like 'All That Jazz' and 'Razzle Dazzle' delivered with power and panache.

The minimalist scenic design by John Lee Beatty and Ken Billlington’s lighting allows the audience to focus on the performers who are consistently are captivating. William Ivey Long’s costume design comprises dozens of shades and textures of black, enabling every muscle and sinew to be clearly seen and every dance move to be fully appreciated by the audience – something that was vitally important to Fosse. This production pulsates with dark energy, with production direction by Tânia Nardini that keeps up a cracking pace to make two hours pass in the wink of an eye.

If you're looking for a light-hearted evening at the theatre, this ain’t it. The plot is a familiar tale of manipulation and media frenzy, and in our jaded times it needs to be remembered that this story was written in the 1920s. The absurdity of a system where fame and fortune can be bought, and justice is non-existent, is all too achingly real. That’s why we need the sharp wit, memorable music, and the healthy dose of cynicism that Chicago gives us. And that’s good, isn’t it grand, isn’t it great, isn’t it swell, isn’t it fun, isn’t it, nowadays.



Original Production Director and Choreographer - Bob Fosse

Based on the play by - Maurine Dallas Watkins

Lyrics - Fred Ebb

Music - John Kander

Book - Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse

Scenic Design - John Lee Beatty

Costume Design - William Ivey Long

Lighting Design - Ken Billington

Sound Design - Julian Spink

Script Adaptation - David Thompson

Orchestrations - Ralph Burns

Vocal Arrangements - Rob Fisher

Dance Music Arrangements - Peter Howard

Australian Associate Director - Karen Johnson Mortimer

Musical Director - James Simpson

Billy Flynn - Anthony Warlow

Velma Kelly - Zoë Ventura 

Roxie Hart - Lucy Maunder

Amos Hart - Peter Rowsthorn

Matron 'Mama' Morton - Asabi Goodman

Mary Sunshine - S. Valeri

Swings and Ensemble: Hayden Baum, Devon Braithwaite, Olivia Carniato, Angelique Cassimatis, Louis Fontaine, Chaska Halliday, Sarah Heath, Matthew Jenson, Ethan Jones, Savannah Lind, Kristina McNamara, Tom New, Nathan Pinnell, Rania Potaka-Osborne and Romina Villafranca.



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