Everything you need to know about the West End revival of Chicago
| By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels
(Updated on Feb 18, 2019)
One of the most widely popular musicals of all time is finally returning to the West End stage after a 5-year hiatus! We're bringing you everything there is to know about this London revival and more!
- Why see Chicago this time around?
Chicago has enjoyed immense success since its revival on Broadway in the mid-90s, and it became a household name after the 2002 film starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah. So, while the West End production closed at the Garrick Theatre in 2012, it feels like the show has never left, and indeed it hasn’t thanks to a widely successful UK tour. It truly comes as no surprise that this showbiz musical we all know and love has made its way back to London for a much-anticipated encore. This time around, the production team has gone all out, bringing audiences a new star-studded cast and magnificent Fosse-style choreography. It's Chicago like you've never seen it before!
- Who are the stars for this production of Chicago?
Cuba Gooding Jr, who most notably won an Oscar for his role as Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire (1996), is leading the bill for the West End revival of Chicago and will be portraying the smooth-talking Billy Flynn for a limited time only until 30 June 2018.
The cast also boasts many Chicago veterans, including Sarah Soetaert (Cats) as protagonist Roxie Hart. Soetaert first played Roxie in 2007 and is the longest-running Roxie Hart in the West End, having portrayed her countless times over the course of six years.
Other Chicago veterans include Josefina Gabrielle as Velma Kelly, who previously starred as Roxie Hart at the Adelphi and Cambridge theatres, and Ruthie Henshall as Mama Morton, who portrayed both Roxie Hart in the London revival (1997-98) and Velma Kelly in her Broadway stage debut (1999). This trio of experienced Chicago actresses is bound to make the 21st anniversary of Chicago a must-see affair!
- Who else has starred in previous productions of Chicago?
Both the Broadway and London productions of Chicago have had a long history of casting celebrities in the leading roles and Cuba Gooding Jr is only the latest celebrity addition to the musical’s razzle-dazzle alumni.
Previous celebrities in the role of Billy Flynn for the UK production include David Hasselhoff, Jerry Springer, Marti Pellow, John Barrowman, Tony Hadley, Ian Kelsey and Kevin Richardson. The suave attorney at law was last played by John Partridge (EastEnders, Celebrity Big Brother 17) in the 2016 UK tour.
The number of big-name celebrities who have starred as Roxie Hart on the West End is even more astonishing. Among Michelle Williams, who was the first black female actress to land the role of Roxie in London, the killer queen has also been played by the likes of Ashlee Simpson, Christie Brinkley, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Ellison, Maria Friedman, Denise Van Outen, Linzi Hateley, Claire Sweeney, Frances Ruffelle, Jill Halfpenny, Brooke Shields, Bonnie Langford, Sally Ann Triplett, Aoife Mulholland, Tina Arena, Josefina Gabrielle and Christie Brinkley.
- What makes the choreography in Chicago so special?
The choreographer for London’s Chicago revival is none other than the Ann Reinking, who formerly played Roxie on Broadway way back when in 1977 and then again during the 1996 Broadway revival, which she also helped to choreograph in keeping with Bob Fosse’s distinct style. Reinking has described the dancing in Chicago as its own language: "Every step is basically a word," she said. "You're propelling a story. So the steps – as well as the lyrics and the music – combine always to progress the story." Reinking is an Olivier Award winning choreographer and together with the show’s five-year absence on the London theatre scene, she is bound to bring some fresh, new fire to the 21st anniversary.
The show will feature all the show-stopping numbers you know and love from Chicago, including the opening number All That Jazz, as well as Razzle Dazzle, When You're Good to Momma, and Cell Block Tango.
- It all sounds hunky-dory, when and where can I book?
Tickets to see this sure-fire hit production of Chicago are on sale now and booking until 6 October 2018. The show premieres on Monday, 26 March 2018. The first leg of this 7-month run with Cuba Gooding Jr is expected to sell out fast and you won’t want to miss his West End feature stage debut!
Book your tickets to see the West End revival of Chicago at the Phoneix Theatre here.