Chicago turns up the heat at the New Alex Theatre

I should first of all put a disclaimer with this review. Chicago is my favourite musical of them all. It is sassy and sexy, filled with a dangerous jazz Age glamour. A mixture of a speakeasy floor show and a Busby Berkeley style musical, bursting with unforgettable characters. Last night in Birmingham, a knockout cast  filled the New Alex Theatre with verve and magnetism and literally brought the house down. My only question is ‘can I go again?’

Chicago is the story of two 1920s murderesses. It’s the height of the jazz age, when anyone can become a star, and the prohibition restraints lead to gin joints, chorus girls and speakeasy’s, with an air of illicit sex and alcohol. The slinky Velma Kelly is the current queen of the Cook County jail after the double slaying of her sister and husband after she caught them ‘en flagrante’. Velma is destined to be a star, sure to be acquitted by the skills of her silky lawyer Billy Flynn, and with the William Morris agency on the phone according to Prison head Mama Morton. But the arrival of the sassy Roxie Hart throws all this into disarray, as Roxie, who murdered her lover, proceeds to steal Velma’s thunder, her headlines and her trial date. But the problem with making your name through murder is that there is always another, more sensational crime around the corner.

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In the leading roles as Roxie and Velma, it would be hard to find any fault with Hayley Tamaddon and Sophie Carmen Jones. Hayley is sparky and vibrant, a pocket rocket who is the very definition of a wisecracking broad, and her musical numbers resound with wit, particularly when she takes the part of a ventriloquists dummy in ‘We both reached for the Gun’.  As Velma, Sophie is a slinky, glamorous present, and opens the proceedings in blistering style with the iconic ‘All that Jazz’. Her dance skills are fully employed throughout, particularly in the scene where she shows Billy how she will appeal to the jury at her trial.

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Billy Flynn needs to be the embodiment of style and charisma, part matinee idol, part vaudeville showman, and the wonderful John Partridge is incredible in the role. He plays it very cool emotionally, singing ‘All I care about is love’ but showing it’s the dollar he really loves. A powerful singing voice and real stage presence make John the perfect Billy, this role was made for him.

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Mica Paris is also very good as Mama Morton, her amazing vocal range totally owning ‘When you’re good to mama’, and her forceful personality also shines through, you really like Mama, even though she is totally on the make, whatever she might say to ‘her girls’. Similarly, the audience totally loves Amos Hart, the Mr Cellophane who is used and ignored by just about everyone. Neil Ditt makes what could have been a pathetic character into one filled with pathos – the only really decent person in the whole damn thing.

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Chicago is full of amazing musical numbers, many of which I have already mentioned, but the stand out, tour de force, is the sublime ‘Cell Block Tango’ sang by the six murderesses of Cook County as they explain how they came to be in prison. With lines like ‘he walked onto my knife, he walked onto it six times’, the darkly funny side of Chicago is explained, and combined with the dark set, the full band on stage again setting the scene as a floorshow, and the skimpy black costumes worn by both male and female characters, undermining at all times that this is a show about sex and murder.

It is also unmissable. Go see.

Chicago The Musical, New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham

Monday 12th to Saturday 31st December 2016

1920s Splendour for 2012 – Carey Mulligan and The Great Gatsby

As any regular Fashion-Mommy reader will know, I’m having a bit of a 1920s/Art Deco fashion obsessive moment. I just seem to have full in love with feathers, fringes and flappers. So for me, one of the highlights of 2012 will be the release of Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby starring the luminous Carey Mulligan. I have adored this book since I was a teenager, reading it on numerous occasions and also searching out other F Scott Fitzgerald books like Tender is the Night and The Beautiful and the Damned.But I have never felt film versions have done justice to the book, the 1970s version starring Mia Farrow looked beautiful but Mia was no Daisy.

So I’m really looking forward to seeing one of my favourite actresses, Carey Mulligan, tackling this role. And with the first film stills from the film released this week, I’m even more excited. The jewels and costumes just look exquisite, with vintage dresses apparently being loaned from Ashley Olsen’s extensive collection. But for me it is all about the accessories.

Amazing jewelled headbands and long silk scarves tied around the head look so chic you long for a sleek blonde bob like Daisy/Carey. And with lace gloves, acres of single strand pearls and layered pearl bracelets, this look is destined to be much copied when the film is released, late in 2012. And whilst the vintage dresses can be a difficult and expensive look to copy, the accessories are a much easier option. Ebay and charity shops are a great source of vintage beads and pearls, whilst the high street also stock inexpensive pieces.

Get the Look

Kaliko Jewelled headband 

Glitter Swirl Alice Hair Band 

 

Sido 20s Style Sequin Headband 

Rock n’ Rose Luxe Feather Headband 

 

Ladies Three Row Plastic Necklace 

 

Bead Drape Choker Price: £20.00 

Pearl and facet bead necklace Price: £25.00 

 

Spot Lace Gloves With Frill 

Art Deco style – The Ultimate Christmas Wish List…

I don’t mind admitting that I am a real Art Deco girl. In my dream world my house would have a flat roof and geometric edges,my colour scheme would be black and White and all my jewels would have previously been owned by Wallis Simpson in the 1930s. I love the Chrysler building, the Hoover building, Saltdean Lido, The Electric Palace on the Portobello Road and every single bingo hall converted from an Art Deco cinema. In short, I’m in love with Art Deco. Which is great this season, when there are 1930s influences to be found on a whole range of clothing, accessories and gift ideas. Here then, is my Christmas list.

Articulated Art Deco earrings 

Feather embellished dress £95 

 

Art Deco Curve Jewellery Box 

Art Deco Sterling Silver Circle & Semi-Circle Brooch/Pendant 

 

Arlo Wool Funnel Coat £210

Pretty Perspex Purse £100 

Silver Simmons Clutch £75 

 

Winter Bex Beads Dress £185 

wine coloured sequin top £12

 

Art deco pencil dress £38 

Follie DECO PIPED T BAR SANDAL CHESTNUT £180 

Art Deco London £9.69 click to visit Amazon