Chicago - performed April 1985
By Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse with music by John Kander
Director - Dennis Murfitt
|Mistress of Ceremonies||Viv Wheatley|
|Velma Kelly||Clare Colbourne|
|Roxie Hart||Brenda Chapman|
|Fred Casely||David Turrell|
|Sergeant Fogarty||Bert Yeates or
|Amos Hart||ROn Colbourne|
|Martin Harrison||Bill Chapman|
|Matron Mama Morton||Val Taylor|
|Billy Flynn||Dennis Murfitt|
|Mary Sunshine||Jane Cousins|
The American accents waver from time to time, and the early part of the court scene needs an injection of pace
between the deliberate and very effective contrived pauses. But the costumes for the huge cast are splendidly conceived
in texture and colour blend and marvellously complemented by imaginative and inventive lighting.
The complicated plot is dealt with as skilfully as is the musical score at the hands of Patience Ling, Greg Garrod and Pauline Rowe. Viv Wheatley's sardonic tongue-in-cheek introduction and commentary is pungently put across and the whole show is summed up in the knockout Razzle-Dazzle session that has style, panache and brilliant range.
IN a bright razzle-dazzle production the Manifest Group has found a new star to add to its already talented line-up.
Clare Colbourne, making her debut for the group, gives a strong, confident and gutsy performance as Velma, one of several hard and bitter women prisoners trying to escape justice for murdering their husbands or lovers – all in self-defence of course.
Brenda Chapman, as her cell-mate Roxie, attacks her part well and the pair produce the kind of aggressive energy demanded by this musical.
Scenes are sharply executed and the show moves smoothly to its climax with the help of well rehearsed music and
The stagecraft of Dennis Murfitt, as a sleazy lawyer manipulating public sympathy, is flawless and the ventriloquist song, in which he uses Roxie as a dummy, must be one of the funniest seen on a local stage. Ron Colbourne, as Roxies’s downtrodden and naïve husband, shows great timing and command of his character and Val Taylor is an excellent "big mama" to the prison women.
The strength of the Manifest Group over the years has been its ability to attract and keep good supporting actors and actresses. This is well demonstrated in "Chicago" by people like David Turrell as Roxie’s lover and Jane Cousins as Mary Sunshine, gullible gossip columnist for the Chicago Evening Star.
Ian Tucker’s set is another inner and the success of this swinging production fully justifies the ambitious choice, well up to the standards of "Fiddler on the Roof", "Oliver" and "Cabaret".
All the world’s a stage
ALL the world’s a stage, the saying goes, and Chicago, the latest production by Manningtree’s Manifest Theatre Company, proves just that. The story of Roxie Hart, accused of murdering her lover, her trial and rise to stardom, is told through a series of vaudeville sketches. Written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, the team responsible for Cabaret, Chicago is rich in irony as well as song and dance. For as much as Roxie want to be let of the hook, she also wants to be a star, and with the help of an unscrupulous lawyer, Billy Flynn, she gets both.
Staged at a cost of almost £900, Manifest’s production put every penny on view, with an ingenious set,
and a seemingly endless parade of glittering costumes.
The American accents occasionally cause problems, but generally the cast cope excellently with both acting, singing and dancing.
Best singing of the evening comes from Clare Colbourne vamping it up as Velma Kelly.
Acting honours go to Brenda Chapman as Roxie, who has the right shrill southern accent, and to Val Taylor, who is underused as Matron Mama Morton, warden of the jail where Roxie is imprisoned. She come on like a cross between Mrs Thatcher and Shirley Bassey and steals every scene she is in. But the finest performance of the evening is by Ron Colbourne, as Roxie’s meek husband Amos. His song, Mister cellophane – because everybody looks straight through him – has just the right mixture of comedy and pathos and is the highlight of a very good evening’s entertainment.