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17th May 2022

Manchester Opera House gives ’em the old razzle dazzle

The new production of Chicago, with its rotating star cast, comes to Manchester Opera House, starring Faye Brookes and Sheila Ferguson
Manchester Opera House gives ’em the old razzle dazzle
Photo: Chicago.

“Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery… all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts.”

With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, and choreography by Fosse – it’s no wonder that Chicago is so majestic.

The musical had its Broadway debut in 1975, later being revived in 1996 – and it’s been playing there since, becoming the second longest running show in Broadway history.

After all these years, Chicago is still the one musical with everything that makes Broadway shimmy-shake: a universal tale of fame, fortune, and all that jazz, with one show-stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen. No wonder Chicago has been honuored with 6 Tony Awards, 2 Olivier Awards, a Grammy, and thousands of standing ovations.

The legendary musical is embarking on a brand-new UK tour, with an incredible cast – after all, the musical is known for its star (if not even stunt) casting.

Faye Brookes (Coronation Street) is playing Roxie Hart, whilst theatre darling Djangela Scott plays Velma Kelly (a role which needs someone who has a background in musical theatre). Matron “Mama” Morton, meanwhile, is being played by Sheila Ferguson, the former lead singer of the Three Degrees – a role she is sharing with singer Sinitta and TV personality Gemma Collins.

Sheila Ferguson
Photo: Matt Crockett.

Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, the musical tells the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her – and she realises that her dreams of stardom are shattered. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids.

Believe it or not, this sensational musical is inspired by true events. The musical is based on the play of the same name, written by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Whilst fiction, the play is a satire based on two unrelated 1924 court cases involving two women, Beulah Annan (the inspiration for Roxie) and Belva Gaertner (the inspiration for Velma), who were both suspected and later acquitted of murder – whom Watkins had covered for the Chicago Tribune as a reporter.

With the musical celebrating its 25th anniversary, you’ve got to come see why the name on everyone’s lips is still… Chicago.

Book now! It would be criminal to miss it…

Chicago plays at Manchester Opera House from 23rd until 28th May, before continuing its UK tour until July.

This will be Sheila Ferguson’s final stop. Gemma Collins takes over the role on the 31st, seeing the tour through Sunderland, Cardiff, Blackpool, Sheffield, Norwich and Oxford – the last stop of the tour. Sinitta, meanwhile, is playing the role in Belfast and Plymouth (June) and Llandudno (July). If you’re keen to see a certain performer, be sure to check the casting beforehand so to avoid disappointment (granted, for some, the cast reveal might, itself, lead to disappointment).

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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