LIPA’s third year dance students have kicked off LIPA’s 2019/20 season of performances with the hit musical Chicago. Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart and her rise to fame after she’s arrested for murder. The show is packed full of iconic songs, amazing dances and this production feels completely fresh. You get what you expect from Chicago but in a completely different way.

Graham Hubbard directs the show and he does a brilliant job of reinventing a musical that’s original production has become so iconic. Likewise Graeme Pickering’s choreography reinvents the iconic staging whilst not straying too far from the style that has come to be associated with Chicago. Chloe Wyn Jones’ set design is simple but it works for the show, although there are moments on the balconies that you can’t see if you’re sat on the side of the auditorium. Abbie Broughton’s costume design is fantastic. The colour scheme is brilliant, they all fit the era perfectly but they’re a complete departure from the iconic blacks that are usually seen for Chicago.

This production has a huge yet very strong cast. Samantha Ho plays Velma Kelly. Her vocals are strong, she gets the chance to demonstrate her great comic timing and her dance skills are exceptional. Her rendition of I Can’t Do It Alone is a showstopper in this production. Jodie Poole’s Roxie Hart is strong and feisty which is a refreshing interpretation of the character. Her vocals and her dance skills are outstanding. Molly Price takes on the role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton. She brings a warmth and a softness to the character which really works and offers a different interpretation of the role. Her rendition of When You’re Good To Mama is great – it’s a shame we don’t get to hear more of her singing.

Callum O’Brien plays the role of Amos Hart. He’s very likeable and he really brings the character to life perfectly. Vocally, he’s not the strongest but what he lacks in vocal strength he makes up for in acting talent. In this production Billy Flynn is turned into a female and she is played by Molly-Mae France. She is strong and has just the right level of charm. Her vocals are gorgeous although sometimes she gets drowned out by the volume of the ensemble vocals. France has a fantastic stage presence though – her scenes are some of the highlights of the show for me. Tomos Bain is a standout as Mary Sunshine. His vocals are stunning and he has the perfect warmth and sweetness without becoming too irritating.

The show has an exceptional ensemble who create a brilliant sound vocally and they execute the choreography with great precision and energy. Evangeline Amelia as the Compere has a great strength and stage presence and Molly Paterson’s energy as Veronica is excellent. The inclusion of Veronica is a creative and brilliant idea. The show does clearly lack male performers but they make it work and it doesn’t detract from the show too much.

LIPA’s production of Chicago is a refreshing take on a classic and beloved musical, with excellent performances, fantastic choreography and all the songs you love.

Reviewer: Jacob Bush

Reviewed: 31st October 2019

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★