Classy Chicago still hits the spot

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SOAP stars often take to the stage and offer proof that there is more to them than their TV characters.

More evidence of this can be found in the touring production of Chicago the Musical, which took its Royal Concert Hall audiences back to the jazz age during the era of Al Capone and the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Here Ali Bastian (Hollyoaks, The Bill and Strictly Come Dancing) as Roxie Hart, Tupele Dorgu (Corrie’s leggy Kelly Crabtree) as Velma Kelly and Stefan Booth (Hollyoaks, The Bill, and Dancing on Ice) as Billy Flynn excelled in a fast-moving, energetic show that is packed with talent and pizzazz.

This is Chicago’s third visit to Nottingham over the years and perhaps the best accolade is to suggest that this offering loses nothing in comparison with the other two.

The three leads receive excellent support from Bernie Nolan as Mama Morton, the prison matron, and Jamie Baughan as Roxie’s long-suffering husband Amos.

Add a superb orchestra under the direction of Adrian Kirk, with that wonderful Kander and Ebb score and some athletic dance routines that would have probably earned a medal in the Olympics and you have a wow of a show.

The musical style of the 1920s is captured to perfection, notably Velma’s All That Jazz, Roxie’s Me and My Baby, Billy’s All I Care About and Razzle Dazzle and a poignant Mr Cellophane from Amos.

We were promised murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery and the sleaze comes by the bucketful, with the silver-tongued criminal lawyer Billy Flynn – the go-to-man when things are rough and if you can raise five thousand dollars – cynically using a blaze of press publicity to get Roxie and Velma off murder raps.

Towards the end Velma and Mama bewail the fact that nobody’s got no class anymore.

This cannot be levelled at this production of a show, which has graced Broadway and the screen and is nearing the end of a West End run.

So best to catch it while you can.