Friday, 31 January 2020

“Chicago – High School Edition” by Act One
Iveshead Theatre, Shepshed.
The musical is the story of Roxie Hart who is married to wimpy Amos Hart, but has a lover, Fred Casey, who one night pops round and ends up being fatally shot by Roxie. She is arrested and jailed where she runs into Velma Kelly, who becomes a rival on just about every front.
Mama Morton, who runs the women’s prison, negotiates a deal with high flying, hot-shot lawyer Billy Flynn to get Roxie off the charge, which puts Velma’s nose out of joint as she is no longer the centre of attention. How fickle is Flynn and the media world? Well this musical answers that!
But surely I am preaching to the converted here as there can’t be many people who have not seen the film “Chicago” which starred Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger, so you all know the outcome of this glitzy musical packed with razzle dazzle.
Yasmin (Roxie Hart) grew as the musical went on, becoming ever more powerful as she demanded more from her audience, A brilliant singer and dancer and very entertaining to watch.
Georgia (Velma Kelly) really looked the part, and I loved the wig and her costumes. A powerful singer and talented dancer, and as Velma, she demanded that all eyes be on her.
Will (Billy Flynn) oozed just the right amount of smarm and self importance for this role. I can see a prospective character actor in Will.
One section I was looking forward to was "They Both Reached For The Gun". this is not the easiest of songs to perform, and if you know the song, or have seen the song performed, you'll know why. Will and Yasmin absolutely smashed this piece, and I could not hide the smile on my face at the end of this song.
Alex (Amos Hart) got the audience on his side as the doormat that is Amos Hart. Again another excellent character actor who also showed brilliant vocal talents in his featured song, "Mr Cellophane".
Ruby (Mama Morton) showed she was the boss. What vocals she gave in the awesome "When You're Good To Mama"
Charlie (Fred Casey) managed to inject a bit of comedy into this role with just a raise of his eyebrows and a wink, extracting laughs from the audience.
The ensemble had obviously worked hard, and looking at them you can see the enjoyment they gleaned from what they were doing, and that made us enjoy their enjoyment. Now with there being so many in the ensemble, and great to see some lads in there with as much enthusiasm as the girls.
Every year, when I attend Act One's productions, I always seem to be drawn to one particular actor or dancer or singer in the ensemble. One that you seem to notice just a little more than the others,and on Friday night there was a young man whose precise armography and his choreographic skills really caught my eye. Mixed with such enthusiasm for what he was doing, Kyle, I feel has a great future on the stage.
This is by no means any sign of disrespect to any other ensemble member because I could see the immense amount of work every single performer had invested in their parts, and they were amazing to watch.
Produced and Directed by Adrian Dobson, he has delivered something very special with this show. I have had the pleasure to see several of Act One's productions and every show manages to raise that bar a little higher every time.
I've also had the pleasure of spotting the talents within these Iveshead theatre shows and have seen them blossom into local actors who have frequently taken their talents to a higher level. All this thanks to the dedication of people like Adrian.
Choreographed by Wendy Spencer, she has yet again brought out these young people's inner talents. The tap section was delightful and Velma and Roxie's finale ("Nowadays") was pure Hollywood.But Wendy did not do it alone as she was assisted by Helen and Danni Starkey and Shelley White.
The twelve piece orchestra sounded great headed by Carolyn Necklen, and loved hearing a banjo in there (Richard James). Bright, brassy and bouncy with plenty of razzle as well as dazzle.
With this being the High School Edition, I was not expecting to hear "Cell Block Tango", due to some of the more adult details within the lyrics, but fair play to everyone for delivering an amazing version of this and delivering it with a mature presentation. There are however some songs that do not appear in the movie soundtrack, which I had forgotten about, so there was a lot of music to get through which made the flow non stop.
Loved the costumes (Lorna North), especially Velma's and Roxie's.
Loved the Lighting Design (James White) and the Set Design.
The sound could have been a tad louder in parts for the mics but i still caught every word, so I ain't gonna moan about that.
Kevin Spencer must also get a mention for his stage management and keeping everything flowing and the pace up.
Many people will also know that i love accents, and I am so pleased to announce that every single actor kept that American accent constant throughout. i was well impressed.
This cast had me razzled dazzled by their talents, and it's as clear as cellophane that these stars will continue to shine bright in the coming years.
“Chicago” is at Iveshead Theatre in Iveshead School, Shepshed until Saturday 1 February.

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