Almost everyone has heard of that famous musical Chicago, whether a theatre fan or not. Its jazzy songs by writing duo Kander and Ebb get us toe tapping and humming along as the story of the sordid world of criminal celebrities unfolds. Set in Chicago during the prohibition, the musical follows the lead character, ambitious wannabe performer Roxie Hart, as she manipulates journalists (with the help of her money-driven lawyer Billy Flynn) into believing she is innocent of a murder she committed.
As the fifth longest-running musical on Broadway, there is no doubt that Chicago is a huge success. But what is it that makes it so darn popular? “The fact that the major plot points are murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery give us an all-rounded guilty pleasure,” says NOVA performer Mark Monroe, who is bringing to life the character of Billy Flynn. “It still holds relevant today as it explores the idea of celebrity.”
Not only does it resonate with modern society, but it’s clearly relevant internationally, having playing in over twenty countries, including Belgium, Ireland, Greece, China, and here in Australia. Maree Barnett, playing the "sexy, funny, and nasty" Roxie Hart, believes its appeal is universal because of the "great jazz score, sexy Fosse dance moves and witty script." This combination has also made Chicago such a unique show in its own style. With it’s Brechtian approach to theatre, and it’s vaudeville set-up, it guarantees a theatrical experience different to your average show. Plus there is the fascinating dance style of original choreographer Bob Fosse, a ‘style that hurts’ according to ensemble member Harley Morrison. “Fosse’s influence is so clear in our choreography. I’ve really come to understand how unnatural and uncomfortable Fosse’s dance style is!” he says. “I love just how different the show is from anything I’ve done previously. It’s nice to really challenge myself.” For many performers such as Di Crough, who is to play Velma Kelly and has been in a production of the show before, Chicago is dear to the heart. “I have loved the musical for over twenty years,” she says. “I have always wanted to play either Roxie or Velma and am very excited that I am finally having that come to fruition.”
Chicago is clearly a meaty choice for NOVA with plenty to offer its audience. “A sleek, polished, stylized show with a dark sense of humour, full of songs that drag you in,” says Monroe. Directed by Noel Browne, with musical direction by John Clancy and choreography by Wayne Robinson, NOVA’s production promises to entertain from the 7th to the 21st of May at the Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading. To book tickets, follow the link!