REVIEW: Chicago, The Mayflower, Southampton

Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart, John Partridge as Billy Flynn and Sam Bailey as Mama Morton. Picture: Dewynters
Hayley Tamaddon as Roxie Hart, John Partridge as Billy Flynn and Sam Bailey as Mama Morton. Picture: Dewynters
Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89

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Chicago is the sexiest musical around: splits and sheer fabric, topless men and Amazonian women, ostrich feathers and dirty jazz music.

Set in the roaring twenties in the titular city, the story charts the celebrity of murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, who are more preoccupied by the column inches their infamy buys them than the nooses hanging over their heads.

The whole show screams class - which is why some casting choices dulled the edge of an otherwise razor-sharp night of singing, dancing and live music.

Emmerdale’s Hayley Tamaddon received top-billing as Roxie, but didn’t suit the role. Yes she could sing and dance, but chewed the scenery in an attempt to capture the character’s schoolgirl-esque naivety.

Similarly, Sam Bailey as Mama Morton smelt of stunt casting; although undoubtedly equipped with grade A pipes, her offstage personality overshadowed her work.

This argument was made all the more convincing by the real star of the show - relative unknown Sophie Carmen Jones as Velma. If Tamaddon was a treacle sponge, she was chocolate fondant: smooth and smouldering. When the pair dueted on Nowadays during the finale, I know who I was watching.

Until Saturday.