‘Chicago’, a timeless classic on the stage and screen, was the University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society’s (UMMTS) show of choice to round out the first semester, directed by Jess Johnstone and Scarlett Spicer and produced by Euan Au. By no means a small feat, the group tackled the performance with more vim and vigour than Velma Kelly herself possesses, putting on a spectacular show with roaring success.
Attending a sold-out closing night, the excitement was palpable. Never having seen ‘Chicago’ myself, I was unaware of the treat I was in for. The Students’ Union Theatre provided an intimate venue, although perhaps not the best to showcase the talented performers; the seating arrangement meant the view of the stage was slightly obstructed for the performance, but this certainly doesn’t take away from how brilliant the show itself was.
Most noteworthy in my opinion was the excellent orchestra that accompanied the show, sailing through a full set list with apparent ease. Their commitment and confidence in every piece allowed the cast to throw themselves into their performances with complete trust in the music to carry them, and throw themselves in they did! Each member of the cast provided a praiseworthy performance with complete professionalism that I could not fault.
Jess Adams played an enigmatic Roxie Hart, moving between simpering sweetheart and manipulative murderer with skill, conviction and brilliant vocals. Velma Kelly was tackled by Georgie Rosser, another stunning vocalist who balanced the sex appeal of the character with her unwavering desire for success against all odds.
Another worthy mention, despite being a more minor character, goes most deservedly to Helena Stanway for her performance of Mary Sunshine. Slightly reminiscent of Rita Skeeter of Harry Potter, Stanway excelled as Sunshine, giving a humorous and uplifting performance. Matron Mama Morton, Jess Stoddard, gave a performance that absolutely delighted the audience and embraced the character’s love of wrongdoers.
A particular mention to Roman Armstrong for his delivery of Amos Hart, accompanied by some rather impressive magic tricks, and of course to Charlie White as Billy Flynn, unwavering in a passionate performance of the smooth-talking lawyer and incredible vocals.
Of course, the show would not be complete without the choreography of Emily Tandy, who herself admitted that the cast originally came with a variety of dance experience. This was not evident in the performance, showing the dedication and hard work that had gone into the show by all those involved. The dances managed to include ‘all that jazz’ whilst remaining tasteful and well done, the touch of a truly talented choreographer and an excellent cast of Cell Block Girls. The show featured some excellent props, the old-fashioned cameras perfectly exaggerated and giving the show that bit extra something.
For me, the best part of the show was that the cast clearly relished performing their roles and enjoyed every single second on stage. Their love of the show was infectious, and I’m now ready to go and give the world the ol’ razzle dazzle.