Welcome to a world where celebrity is everything, sex sells and you can get away with murder if you razzle-dazzle the media. The Court Theatre’s Chicago holds a dark mirror up to society in this razor-sharp satire.
In 1920s Chicago, wannabe vaudeville performer Roxie Hart murders her lover in a jealous rage and finds herself at the centre of a media circus. Sent to Cook County Prison, Roxie encounters the Six Merry Murderesses, Velma Kelly, and hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn. With its mix of sex, sin and show-stopping tunes, Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
Stephen Robertson and Richard Marrett have helmed a string of hit summer musicals at The Court Theatre, including Grease, Mary Poppins, and Legally Blonde the Musical. As Musical Director, Marrett oversees the sound of iconic musical numbers like “All That Jazz”, “Roxie” and “They Both Reached for the Gun”; Robertson takes on the triple tasks of Director, Choreographer and Costume Designer. Working closely with Set Designer Harold Moot, Robertson oversees almost every visual aspect of the show. The role is challenging, but “brings continuity,” says Robertson. “I can see the whole production in my mind and visualise the colours, bodies and designs.”
The creative team have embraced the setting of prohibition-age Chicago. “We made the decision early on to take it back to its roots and set it in the mid-20s” says Robertson. “I love the era - visually there’s so much to tap into for the stage and the costumes. It’s more faithful to the original than you’d see on Broadway.”
Finding the right double act to play Roxie and Velma was key, with countless performers auditioning for the roles. “It was a juggling act to find the right chemistry” says Robertson. Fortunately, the creative team found their perfect Roxie in Nomi Cohen (previously seen in The Court’s Legally Blonde the Musical) and Velma in Darlene Mohekey (from TV One’s Facelift). Robertson says both actresses “blew all of us away” with their auditions.
As a bonus unknown to the production team during casting, Cohen and Mohekey are good friends who have performed together previously, making their on-stage rapport (and rivalry) that much easier. “We found out at the same time,” says Cohen. “In that moment, I not only realised I got the role but that I completely trust my on-stage counterpart.”
Both Cohen and Mohekey are excited about the style of the production. “The costumes are stunning,” says Cohen. Mohekey agrees. “It will feel more like a transportation back in time. It will have those magic moments of a live musical where the stage is transformed in front of your eyes.”
Artistic Director of The Court Theatre, Ross Gumbley, believes that Chicago resonates strongly for modern audiences. “Maurice Dallas Watkins wrote the original stage play as satire, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that she was being prophetic. All around us we increasingly see celebrity trump substance; social media or spin drowning out the truth; and scandal after scandal fighting for the spotlight. With Chicago, you get a show that speaks to today wrapped up with some of the best songs in Broadway history.”
Step back into the 1920s and enjoy one of musical theatre’s most iconic shows: a tale of exploitation, adultery, fame, greed, corruption, murder, and all that jazz.
See the full cast list here.