Chicago! What a Blast! - Part 1
By MaryD

I have been writing a review/synopsis for some time and last night was the final night. It's been an extraordinary journey of seeing a show evolve. I have been very fortunate in seeing it quite a few times (the tyranny of distance is non existent from Sydney to Auckland). It has amazed me, it has made me laugh, it has made me be totally astounded by the talent on that stage. I went to see Lucy Lawless and I come away thinking her talent is extraordinary (well yes that's a given isn't it) but so were the other cast who blew me away.

EVERYONE was such incredible performers from the production side to the performers. This will stay with me for a very long time. I seldom see shows more than once or twice but this show just made me want to break that tradition. BOY DID I BREAK IT!

Thank you to Lucy Lawless once again for this opportunity to get on a plane and have bum on seat to see an extraordinary show. It was worth the time and money to travel across the ditch. One of the highlights of following her career.

Thank you to the cast whose performances blew me away, the creative genius that dreamt up the direction, the choreography, music composition and the other departments that brought this show to life.

I've broken up this novel length review / synopsis into three parts - here is the first part which is my impressions and other funny things.
If you have seen it, the music, the choreography, the laughs and the 'aw' moments will still be with you.

I'm not a big musicals fan; not because I don't enjoy them, I do, but I just don't find the time to go. This trip afforded me the very luxurious two weeks of shows PLUS the final 3 shows and I enjoyed every single one of them.

 

First up the credits including cast and my impressions and production


sidebysideLucy Lawless-- Velma Kelly

A vaudevillian and murderess who is on trial for killing her cheating husband and sister. She is represented by Billy Flynn and competes with Roxie Hart over him.

Lucy truly shined! I simply LOVE watching this woman perform and once again she didn't disappoint. I was expecting Lucy to be great (no pressure eh?) and she gave her usual stellar performance/s. She was a very sexy Velma, sad and lonely Velma, playful, comedic and joyous. Lucy moved freely on stage and she has said she's not a dancer but she held her own and was outstanding. The woman has presence and she stood out even among the very talented group of performers. Astounding. Her voice was strong throughout the show and there will not be another Velma like that again!

Lots more about that in Parts 2 and 3 of my review!


 

amandaAmanda Billing-- Roxie Hart
A wannabe vaudevillian and murderess who kills her lover after a spat and is sent to jail.

WOW. Just WOW. Amanda is gorgeous and supremely talented. Her Roxie was just incredible. There are a lot of standout moments that I will write in Part 2 and 3 that involve Amanda but one of my favourites is her singing Roxie (the entire number is fabulous). What a talent! Lucy and Amanda made quite a team.

More about her performance in Parts 2 and 3!



 

billyflynnShane Cortese-- Billy Flynn
Velma and Roxie's lawyer who has a perfect track record and makes celebrities of his clients to win sympathy and sway public opinion.
Oh my goodness Shane made Billy such a sleazy lawyer and would be most unlikeable but he had that cheeky grin happening. LOVED him. MUCH more about Billy in Part 2 and 3!


 


Image635233867560528000Andrew Grainger-- Amos Hart
Roxie's faithful and good-natured but simple husband whom nobody pays attention to. He spends most of the play trying to make Roxie take interest in him or even just acknowledge his existence.

Andrew totally surprised me. I had never seen Andrew sing before the first show and I came away from it as a HUGE fan. I recall seeing a photo of him in a sweaty shirt on the Auckland Theatre Company facebook page and it didn't connect who he was until I saw him on stage. His rendition of Mr Cellophane blew me away. We have all felt like that at some point and it resonated with the audience. He always got a very LOUD and enthusiastic response from the audience. You could connect with Amos and it was pretty evident the audience felt the same way I did. More about that in Part 2 and 3.

 


MamaColleen Davis-- Mama Morton
The matron of the Cook County Jail who believes that all favors she gives should be reciprocated

Colleen has such an incredible singer and she struts that stage and exudes power with a little bit of comedic flare. She doesn't take Mama too seriously and I found her more than a little compassionate (and corrupt) warden.

Her "When You're Good To Mama" blew my mind. Her duet with Lucy in Class is simply superb. Her compassion with the Hungarian was touching.

More about that in Part 2 and 3 of the review/synopsis.

 


qtwedv0iSandra Rasmussen-- Tallulah
The narrator and amazing tap dancer

Sandra opened the show and I don't know much about tap dancing but I totally loved watching her. One of my favourite parts is of her and Amanda tap dancing (or Amanda attempting to tap dance in time with Sandra). It was so much fun to watch!

More about Sandra in Part 2 and 3!

 

 

 


hannahHannah Tasker-Poland-- Liz/Foreman/Squaw/Fire Girl/Veronica

Oh my goodness gracious me. What an incredible performer. During "When You're Good to Mama" Hannah is hanging off the underside of the table that is moving with Colleen (Mama) on top, while she's doing a pull up, she is crawling forward as the table moves (I hope I can describe this properly because the move is just so amazing). It's one of my favourite choreography moves in the show. It's slow and so powerful to watch. Hannah just left me speechless.

All the cast (except Lucy) were sporting tattoos - some fake, some real. There is a moment during the trial that Hannah (with very little clothing on) sat in front of me (in Block D) and with my height...I couldn't see over her <g> I was watching her face and trying not to look at her chest which was a foot away from me.

A few nights later I was sitting four seats down from there and I wanted to see the reaction of the person sitting there to Hannah. I did a double take. Hannah was sporting this great bit hulking skull on fire tattoo on her chest. Now I'm either very blind or it was a fake tattoo - it took me a few moments to work out that it was a fake. I had a good chuckle to myself and went back to watching the show. More about Hannah's extraordinary performance in the show in Part 2 and 3.



LaviniaMikeLavinia Uhila-- Annie/Kitty/Reporter

Lavinia was so fantastic to watch. I was reminded of a graceful feline the way she moved. Not sure how to describe it but it really struck a cord with me. Her Miss Kitty is hysterical!

 

More about that in Part 2 of the review!

 

 

Image635233874211030000Rebekkah Schoonbeek-- June/Wonder Woman/Reporter

Aye curumba! Another performer I couldn't take my eyes off. There was something about Rebekkah that just stood out (and it wasn't the fake tattoos). Her June was HYSTERICAL. I'm not sure how much Rebekkah weighs but whatever it is, poor Mike will have her shoe prints on his chest and stomach. Sitting in Block D is an eye opener for Cell Block Tango.


More about that in Part 2 of the review!

 

 


Image635233875259238000Katie Swift-- Hunyak/Reporter/Chorus

Ah Katie, the quiet one of the group. I'm sorry to say that on the first night I couldn't watch her most powerful scene - the hanging of the Hungarian. I just couldn't bring myself to watch it. I did later on. Very powerful stuff. Katie had such a vulnerability about her in her role as the poor unfortunate Hunyak who got treated so badly by the rest of the inmates.

More about that in Part 3.

 



Image635233876786204000Will Barling-- Mona/Reporter/Chorus

I absolutely loved watching Will; especially during Cell Block Tango where he plays Mona. There's something about him that I was captivated. He had that special IT. What is that IT? I have no idea but he has it. He moves so beautifully.

More about this in Part 2.


 

Image635233887738438000Stephen Butterworth -- Fogarty/Harrison/Clerk

I simply adore Stephen. He comes out with some of the funniest one liners. From his detective to his dancing. Brilliant stuff. He has such a cheeky look that he made me smile every time I watched him.

 

More Part 2 and 3!

 



Image635233888401458000Mike Edward -- Fred Casely/Harry/Aaron/Reporter

Mike is built like a Greek God but once you get over those rippling abs, you will find one of the most exciting performers I've seen. He can sing, dance and his athleticism with backflips and such is astounding. I loved watching Mike work. Brilliant stuff.

 

More about that in Part 2 and 3.

 

 

 


Image635233866532450000James Luck -- Bailiff/Judge

What a cutie!! First time I saw James was in all that Jazz but it's not until "All I Care About" I saw more of James that I really needed to see..that G stringy thing was an eye opener <g> I love the bunny ears. His dancing during Razzle Dazzle just made me smile; I loved his exuberance!

 

More about that in Part 2 and 3.

 


The band was BRILLIANT - the musical score was just incredible.

BAND

Stephen Thomas--Drums |
Brett Adams-Guitar
Jeff Henderson--Sax and others |
Cameron McArthur--Bass

It takes a lot of creative people to bring this brilliant show together and from Michael Hurst down, THANK YOU!

C R E AT I V E

Michael Hurst--Director |
Shona McCullagh--Choreographer
John Gibson-- Musical Director |
John Harding--Set Designer
Lesley Burkes-Harding--Costume Designer |
Sean Lynch--Lighting Designer
James Luck-- Dance Captain

PRODUCTION
Paul Nicoll--Technical & Production Manager
Fern Christie--Company Manager |
Chelsea Adams--Stage Manager
Natalie Braid--Assistant Stage Manager
Rachel Marlow--Lighting Operator |
Rory Maguire--Sound Engineer
Natasha Pearl--Props Master |
Petra Verweij--Costume Assistant
Marion Olsen + Jo Hawke--Costume Cutters
Sally Bourner--Costume Assistant Intern |
Minera Mallete--Machinist
Thomas Press--Flyman |
2Construct
--
Set Construction
Katrina Turkilsen--Intern Observing Operations


Continued in Part 2