Redcliffe Musical Theatre Youth and ROAR Academy
Before I say anything more about this particular production it's worth noting that officially the show is “Chicago: High School Edition,” so some of the more risqué references are toned down or excluded entirely. However, I personally think the show should just be called "Chicago" as this never gets in way of the core of the story, and Maureen Bowra's direction has effectively communicated the glamorisation of a scandalous lifestyle that makes “Chicago” a timeless narrative with a very talented cast of young performers.
The show is full of all the famous upbeat toe-tapping hit songs we all know and love including "All That Jazz", "Cell Block Tango", "When You're Good to Mama", "Mister Cellophane" and "Razzle Dazzle", so don’t think because it's a high-school edition you are going to miss out on hearing these classics.
“Chicago” follows the sensational cabaret singer Velma Kelly (Giulia Bortolanza), who kills her two-timing husband and sister. Fortunately, Chicago's silver-tongued attorney, Billy Flynn (Jordan Smith), is lined up to defend her, thanks to the sassy prison Matron “Mama” Morton (Melanie Evans). However, when Roxie Hart (Audrey Rose) also commits second-degree murder, Billy takes on her case as well, leading Roxie into a media whirlwind and providing her with the fame she’s always yearned for.
From the opening number of "All The Jazz" I knew we were in for a treat. The set sparkled (literally with hundreds of lights on a backdrop curtain) and the ensemble worked their magic to engage the audience and set the scene for the rest of the show.
Obviously key to the success of a musical of this calibre are the vocals of the leads and I strongly believe this is why RMT's show soared. Giulia Bortolanza and Audrey Rose's vocals were outstanding and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were watching two leading ladies who had years of professional performances under their belts – not 18 years olds who each stole the show with their soaring notes and incredible stage presence.
I also must mention the two leading males in the show, Jordan Smith as Billy Flynn and Connor Chadwick as Amos Hart. Having such incredible leading ladies to perform alongside would not have been an easy task but these young men stood out in their own right. Jordan portrays the perfect smug conman and his vocal range equally matched his acting ability for such an iconic character. Connor Chadwick's rendition of Mister Cellophane was a highlight for me in this production and you couldn't help but feel sorry for him as the show went along and you learnt more of his back story. Again, the age of these young performers could have easily been forgotten as they both showed such maturity in their performances.
In fact the whole cast are young performers (bar the exception of Mama Morton) which makes this production even more incredible. I must make a special note of the ensemble in this show, both featured and junior, who all worked incredibly hard to add a certain flare to the show that was emphasised through the amazing choreography of Meredith Johns, especially "Cell Block Tango" and "We Both Reached For the Gun" which were two of my favourite numbers in the show.
The simple set and effective lighting are the perfect addition for the big songs and even bigger dance numbers. The costuming was also a standout for me in this show – it was glitzy, sparkly and was authentic to the era that "Chicago" is set in which really helped bring the story to life.
I definitely recommend you get along to see "Chicago" (I'm deliberately leaving out the High School Edition part) – it certainly won't disappoint and is a show not to be missed. It is showing for one more weekend only at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre – 4 shows only July 12-14.