Chicago razzles and dazzles Sydney

Chicago, currently playing at the Capitol Theatre Sydney, takes you headfirst into the sultry, scandalous world of 1920s Chicago—a world where jazz is king and every headline screams sensationalism. With its razor-sharp wit and undeniable allure, this revival centres on the seductive underbelly of the era, crafting a spectacle that’s as much about the sizzle as it is about the story.

For those not familiar, this classic musical by Kander, Ebb and Fosse, revolves around Roxie Hart, a housewife turned nightclub dancer who finds herself in jail for murdering her lover. Alongside her is Velma Kelly, a vaudevillian star also imprisoned for a crime of passion. Both women vie for the attention of the slick, silver-tongued lawyer, Billy Flynn, who can spin any story to the jury’s favour. As the plot unfolds, themes of corruption, fame, and manipulation take centre stage, illustrating how the legal system and the media are willing to bend the truth for a good story.

Given that Chicago is a show fundamentally about sex and the intoxicating lure of fame, the direction, choreography, set, and costumes are brilliantly streamlined to keep the focus sharp and provocative. The minimalist set, dominated by an orchestra stand complete with 15 musicians, shares the stage with the actors, allowing the raw performances and Fosse-inspired choreography to take the spotlight. The sleek, all-black costumes enhance the show’s sensual vibe, while the understated yet effective lighting adds depth to the sultry, smoke-filled world of the Jazz Age.

Lucy Maunders as Roxie Hart is a revelation. Her portrayal is a delicate balance of naiveté and cunning ambition. Maunders brings a fresh, electric energy to Roxie, making her journey from a downtrodden housewife to a media sensation utterly compelling. Her chemistry with the audience is palpable, drawing us into her web of deceit with a wink and a smile.

Equally captivating is Zoe Ventoura as Velma Kelly. Ventoura’s performance is a masterclass in poise and power, her every move exuding a fierce determination to reclaim the limelight. Her rendition of All That Jazz sets the tone for the evening, showcasing her vocal and dance talents.

Peter Rowsthorn as Amos Hart is a standout in this production. His comedic timing and heartfelt performance bring depth to Amos that’s often overlooked. Rowsthorn’s Mister Cellophane is both touching and humorous, capturing the essence of a man who’s perpetually unseen.

Then there’s Anthony Warlow as Billy Flynn, a role he inhabits with effortless charm and gravitas. Warlow’s performance is nothing short of mesmerising. His rendition of We Both Reached for the Gun is a masterstroke of puppetry and showmanship, solidifying his status as a legend of the stage.

The ensemble is a well-oiled machine, each member oozing talent and charisma without ever overshadowing the leads. Their energy and precision elevate every group number, adding layers of texture and intensity to the show.

Not every musical can withstand the test of time, but this Chicago is a testament to its enduring appeal. With its sizzling performances and a narrative that’s as relevant today as it was nearly a century ago, this production is a must-see. Whether you’re a seasoned theatregoer or a newcomer, Chicago at the Capitol Theatre promises a night of thrills, laughter, and unforgettable entertainment.

– The other Daniel Craig


Daniel Craig is an international performer and has established himself as a trusted theatre specialist on the Sydney Arts Scene. While he understands the technical side of theatre, Dan writes for the everyday theatregoer (unlike some of those more prominent publications). When not in the audience, he loves to travel the world trying new gin. Follow him on all the socials @talldancraig

Chicago runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes (including 20-minute interval) and plays at Capitol Theatre, Sydney through 28 July 2024. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of IP Publicity.
Image credit: Jeff Busby.