(Jessica Sole as Roxie & Katy Moore as Velma. Pic by Val Adamson)
World class triumph from start to finish. (Review by Caroline Smart)
Just when you think KickstArt has reached its peak, along comes another winner. How can you write a review when every second word is liable to be a superlative?
Last night’s audience said it all as they responded throughout with massive accolades to KickstArt’s latest production, Chicago, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. This wasn’t just a polite response but an ecstatic one – and it was totally justified.
This is KickstArt’s finest production to date. It is a world class triumph from start to finish and the inimitable Steven Stead has chosen an excellent cast – no weak links here! – and has directed faultless and memorable performances. Greg King’s set design is highly effective with the 9-piece band seated on an ornately decorated three-tier platform. In one scene, it is transformed into golden splendour with colonnades and luxurious curtaining.
Chicago features music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. It is set in Chicago and is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about real-life Chicago criminals in true cases. It is a sassy, sexy - often-raunchy and strident - satirical look at the lives of two women who land up in jail for murder. One is Velma, an arrogant vaudeville showgirl, and the other is Roxie, a feisty housewife who is consumed by dreams of fame.
Two main figures control their lives in jail: Mama Morton, who presides over the block and does favours for Valma for payment, and their lawyer, Billy Flynn, who’s always after the main chance.
Katy Moore literally explodes with energy as the brash Velma Kelly and puts in some fantastic dance sequences. Jessica Sole runs the gamut of emotions as Roxie Hart in a highly impressive performance. They both handle the sexiness, humour, volatile nature and pathos of these two characters with ease. Their handling of My Own Best Friend was very moving.
Charon Williams Ros produced the impeccable level of toughness and cynicism required for Mama Morton, especially in When You’re Good to Mama. It is really sad that this is her last show here before she moves to the UK.
Jason Ralph has a great voice and his portrayal of the manipulative and money-grabbing Billy Flynn is another excellent characterisation, especially in the court scenes.
A standout performance came from Bryan Hiles as Roxy’s downtrodden husband, Amos. His rendition of the poignant Mr Cellophane was brilliant. Anne Marie Clulow as the newspaper reporter, Mary Sunshine, handled the character’s transformation superbly as well as the considerable demands of her song, A Little Bit of Good.
Janine Bennewith’s stunning choreography pulses with high octane energy, leaps, high kicks and loads of razzle-dazzle. Neil Stuart Harris’ costumes perfectly reflect the period and the showgirl outfits are glorious.
Every single member of the supporting cast adds to the high quality of the production. They are Liesl Coppin, Marion Loudon, Chloe Perling, Kirsty Ndawo, Simone Mann, Nathan Kruger, Adam Dore, Danny Guselli, Zwa Hlongwane and Janine Bennewith.
Musical director Evan Roberts leads an excellent band and guides each number through its own special magic – from the sexy All that Jazz and the up tempo Cell Block Tango to the more poignant numbers. Tina le Roux’s lighting design enhances every mood and scene change.
Chicago runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until April 30, 2017. Tickets R280, R250 and R210. Booking is at Computicket: www.computicket.co.za / 0861 915 8000 / Shoprite Checkers Money Market Counters.
For enquiries for block bookings of 50 or more people / entire performances, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places: firstname.lastname@example.org or 083 250 2690. For more information, visit www.kickstarttheatre.co.za.
It’s worth every cent of the ticket price. Whatever you do, don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart