The first major professional production of Chicago to hit Australia since 1998/9 recently arrived in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Chicago is such a popular stage musical for so many reasons – the songs, the characters, the choreography, the plot, the dialogue … the list goes on.
But I left the theatre quite disappointed with this latest production of what should have been a fabulous show.
For starters, the casting was wrong. Caroline O’Connor, as fabulous as she is, seems too old for the role of Velma nowadays. Chicago is all about sex. Sexy bodies, that is. In this department, Caroline O’Connor just doesn’t cut it anymore.
On the flip side, Craig McLachlan appeared too young for the role of Billy Flynn. This role also requires pzazz and unfortunately McLachlan simply didn’t have it (not helped by the fact that he is also a very average singer).
Strangely, the choreography by the men appeared noticeably more polished than the womens. The mens dancing was slick and tight. Cell Block Tango, however, was just one example of mediocre choreography that lacked the necessary ‘oomph’ required for a big show number from the ladies.
Another name draw card, television personality Gina Riley, was also disappointing. As with McLachlan, Riley lacked the spark and energy expected from the role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton. She just coasted along through her dialogue and numbers, not so impressively.
The saving grace of Chicago was Sharon Millerchip. A strong performance in every department, Millerchip offered us a powerful and mesmerising portrayal as Roxie Hart.
Chicago lacked the sharpness and polish one would expect for a national tour of a well known musical. If Chicago is gioing to (nearly) match the ticket prices of the big league (Jersey Boys, Wicked etc) at $110 a pop, then the audience simply expects more bang for their buck than what this production offered.