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[ Cat Lawrence | Chicago in London | pictures | reviews | Adelphi ]
Cat trained in classical ballet, studying the Russian method pioneered in Australia, under the tuition
of the late Agnes Babicheva.
Chicago in London
As mentioned above, at the moment thru may 1999, Cat Lawrence performs
in CHICAGO THE MUSICAL
London views, 15th october 1998:
Review by Darren Dalglish (14th March 1998)
Email: [mailto: email@example.com ]
Four months ago on 18th November 1997, "Chicago" hit the West End with some of the best notices any show has received in recent times. The show has been a phenomenal success and is currently sold out for the next 3 to 4 months. I waited a few months to see this show in order to see if it would maintain its freshness and momentum after all the hype had died down. I can tell you that this show lives up to all expectations and more. The performers were so fresh you would have thought it was opening night!
"Chicago" , written in 1975, has music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, and is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins.
"Chicago", which is directed by Walter Bobbie concerns 'Roxie Hart', a woman who has murdered her lover and now seeks the help of a sleazy lawyer to help her get acquitted. The lawyer, 'Billy Flynn' has other clients as well, and one in particular 'Velma Kelly' a celebrity who thinks she knows all the tricks to clear herself of her murder charge. Or rather that is until 'Roxy' appears on the scene! What ensues is a battle between them for media attention to gain sympathy for their cases.
This is without doubt the hottest show to hit the West End in years. It is a breath taking musical extravaganza that is simply brilliant. It has some catchy and wonderful songs, like 'All That Jazz', 'Razzle Dazzle', 'Class', 'All I Care About' and the wonderful 'Mister Cellophane'. It has superb dance routines that are original and exciting. Ute Lemper is simply wild, sexy and breathtaking as 'Velma'. You can see why she won the 1998 Olivier award for Best Actress in a musical. Ruthie Henshall is also dynamic as 'Roxie' and frankly it must have been very hard for the judges of the Olivier's to choose between these two. Henry Goodman as the corrupt lawyer ' Billy Flynn' and 'Nigel Planer' as 'Roxie's' boring, put upon husband 'Amos Hart' are both perfectly cast for these parts and are a joy to watch.
No props or big sets are used to enhance the show. The only thing on stage is a giant bandstand, which remains on stage the whole time. In fact, the conductor is part of the attraction as he bounces up and down in rhythm with the music. I'm sure he must be on something!
The notices from the popular press were all in agreement. NICHOLAS DE JONGH says the show is a "delectable feast of wit, fun, nostalgia music and songs". BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD says it is " A revival that's as close to musical theatre heaven as you are likely to get nowadays". PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE says, "Hot revival with plenty of sass" and goes on to say "Kander and Ebb are certainly at their best here". JANE EDWARDES of TIME OUT says "It's the combination of slinky dancing and tart songs that makes "Chicago" stand out from the others."
This is a show that is not to be missed, particularly with this cast.
Go book your tickets now!
Review by John Timperley (29th October 1997)
Email: [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
CHICAGO first saw the light of day in 1975. It crept into our consciousness, won awards, but didn't make everyone sit up and take notice. Nowadays, when we're more used to murder, greed, corruption, violence,exploitation, adultery, treachery and (to quote the programme introduction) all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts, it will be noticed. I predict it will run, and run, and run.
In short, it's the sweetest, funniest, sexiest murder story ever.
With FLORA THE RED MENACE, CABARET and KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN undertheir belts, Fred Ebb and John Kander have never been afraid to tackle contentious subjects - and to delve into the depths of our emotions.
CHICAGO has attributes other than digging deep. It is funny like a rippling brook and unashamedly, openly, Gianni Versace sexy. I would commit murder myself to be incarcerated with such a group of ravishing jailbirds - and willingly work my way through college on the way to the gallows.
For me, this show is a testimony to the brilliance of the late Bob Fosse. He collaborated in writing the book of the play and brought his brillianceas a choreographer into the very heart of the drama. His legacy lives on through Ann Reinking, until recently starring in the Broadway production, but now in London - directing the dance sequences.
When the curtain goes up and you see the orchestra taking up most of the Adelphi stage, you wonder how they are going to move it away when theaction starts. They don't move it, but the play moves you. Without being obtrusive we get the full benefit of the brilliant John Kander score whilst the action takes place on a cleverly utilised, and focused, front of stage.
Roxie (Ruthie Henshall) is a role you'd kill for - and she does - kill Imean - in the opening scene. Now - you ask yourself - can this charming, talented trouper top her roles in CATS, OLIVER, MISS SAIGON, LES MIS, CRAZY FOR YOU, SHE LOVES ME, A CHORUS LINE and DIVORCE ME DARLING. Don't rush to find out - she'll be at the Adelphi for a long time, fine tuning herwickedness.
The opening number All That Jazz lays the show right on the line. If I was mesmerised by the women it's because I wear trousers - most of the time. The male dancers are like sharks at a mermaid's picnic and I share their lust.
Until Roxie establishes herself, the big shot amongst the female felons is Velma Kelly (Ute Lemper) who is bitchily bossy and breathtakingly balletic. Her legs go on for ever and teach us that perpendicular is somewhere else.Up there, in the flys.
Her accomodating captor is the prison Matron (Mama) Morton (Meg Johnson) who takes a cut from every known exploitation, except the crime of murder which epitomises the wrongdoing of every bird of passion in her latter-day Alcatraz.
Other roles. Roxie's husband, Amos Hart (Nigel Planer) is pathetically pleasing and deserving of her love and ours, but he is, as he explains in the lyrically strong song Mister Cellophane, an easy figure to ignore. When he is finally forced to admit Roxie's treachery and asks for his exitmusic, he has to walk off in total silence. Hard on a man.
Billy Flynn (Henry Goodman) is the sleazy, hook-nosed, evil, sonofabitch lawyer, who wheadles his way into everbody's back pocket. I wouldn't trusthim to look after my dog's leavings on the sidewalk, while I was in a bank collecting his bribe. Having seen Henry playing Nathan Detroit in GUYS AND DOLLS at the RNT, the trouble for me is that he can't put a foot wrong, and he will surely linger in my memory as the advocate who saves our nowbeloved Roxie from the big drop.
One day, someone will have to explain to me what Mary Sunshine (C.Shirvell) is all about. For now, I'm going to luxuriate in the memory of Fred Ebb's script and lyrics. Unlike, for example, CITY OF ANGELS they are well spaced and crystal clear - we know what's going on every step of the way.
You won't find a better series of "steps on the way" in any musical which compares favourably with Razzle Dazzle. It raises goose pimples in places where the sands of time have long run out.
Which is why I'm tempted to express personal, biased, lusty feelings for two gamines - Mona (Jacqui Jameson) and Go-To-Hell Kitty (Vanessa Leach-Hicks). I'm available, but don't call me - you'd be disappointed. I wasn't.
This American classic, directed by Walter Bobbie, will be around for years- as a flagship of everything that's best about West End theatre.
Give 'em the old razzle dazzle. Yeah - razzle dazzle 'em.
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