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Sheila Ferguson and Russell Watson star in Chicago at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford


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1920s Illinois made its way to Dartford this week for the opening of Chicago.

Full of razzle dazzle, glitz and glamour and a lot of feathers, the production was a showcase of the superb musical talent in the country right now.

Chicago brings 1920s jazz to the Dartford stage. Picture: Tristram Kenton
Chicago brings 1920s jazz to the Dartford stage. Picture: Tristram Kenton

While Russell Watson and Shelia Ferguson brought the fame and the star quality - they were just cogs in a talented and acrobatic cast.

The ensemble is always a hard working group who help tell the story and support the stars but this group raised the bar to new heights.

The artistry and athleticism needed for some of the choreography was a tall order but they made it all look effortless.

I was most looking forward to the Cell Block Tango and it didn't disappoint.

Djalenga Scott was a stunning Velma and her supporting team matched her talent on the number.

Coronation Street star Faye Brookes steps off the cobbles and onto the stage. Picture: Tristram Kenton
Coronation Street star Faye Brookes steps off the cobbles and onto the stage. Picture: Tristram Kenton

My only prior knowledge of the show was the Hollywood film from 2002 starring Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones. So I'm unsure if putting the orchestra on the stage and becoming part of the production is a common move, but I'm a very big fan.

The conductor was clearly having a ball and it was great to see them in the spotlight.

Comparing Russell Watson to Richard Gere feels unfair, but Watson's singing ability is incomparable, and the occasional operatic note gave the audience what they wanted from the star.

My eye was drawn away from him during Razzle Dazzle as I was trying to take in the complex and skillful routine the ensemble had together. But his ventriloquist doll scene with Faye Brookes was hilarious and acted perfectly.

Chicago comes to the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Paul Coltas (55930715)
Chicago comes to the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Paul Coltas (55930715)

The production was good throughout with the timing and drama of the final court scene full of elements to keep the audience entertained.

From the sleepy judge to the ever changing jury, it was a feast for the eyes and ears.

It's a must watch.

Chicago is at the Orchard Theatre until Saturday, April 23.

Book online here or call 03433 100 033.

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