A nightclub singer, a double murder, a smooth-talking lawyer and a cell block of sin, surrounded by the razzle-dazzle of the world’s sexiest musical: Chicago. Now on stage at Artscape, Cape Town, until 14 April, then playing at Montecasino’s Teatro, Johannesburg, from 20 April to 26 May. Featuring an all-South African cast and band under the baton of Music Supervisor Bryan Schimmel, you’ve got it comin’ as the story of the award-winning Broadway and West End musical Chicago unfolds to show-stopping songs, including ‘All that Jazz’, ‘Cell Block Tango’ and ‘Mister Cellophane’.
The music of Chicago was composed in the 1970s by John Kander. Set in the1920s at the time of prohibition, the score magnificently captures the era of jazz bands where Dixieland was alive, and swing was evolving. The infamous trumpet solo at the top of the show sets up an overture that immediately thrusts the audience back to a moment in time when decadence, excess and debauchery were all underground, illegal and wonderfully irresistible: ‘It’s just a noisy hall / Where there’s a nightly brawl / And all / That / Jazz’.
The musical style of the show is firmly established with its big, brassy bluster and rollicking ragtime piano riffs. Executing the score is an eleven-piece band comprised of two trumpets, trombone, tuba, three reed players, banjo/mandolin, piano, upright bass and a drummer who plays multiple percussion instruments.
As musicals go, Chicago presents an element that is unique to this show. The band is not hidden away in the pit as merely an accompaniment to the actors. In a story that builds to a climactic scene where the American legal system is manipulated by the ‘silver-tongued prince of the courtroom, Mr Billy Flynn’, the band is positioned onstage in what appears to be a large jury box that creates the entire backdrop for the show.
Having the band on stage is not necessarily unique. However, in Chicago, the conductor and the band are brilliantly integrated into the fabric of the show with recurring interactions between cast and musicians that are further emphasised at the opening of the second act where the band is given an opportunity to feature as a performing ensemble.
Chicago continues to be one of the most successful international musical hits of all time. Book now, only at Computicket.
MUSIC SUPERVISOR Bryan Schimmel | PIANO / ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR Kevin Kraak | BANJO / MANDOLIN Kuba Silkiewicz | DOUBLE BASS Graham Strickland | TUBA Shaun Williams | DRUMS / PERCUSSION Luca De Bellis | TRUMPET 1 Mike Blake | TRUMPET 2 Michael Magner | TROMBONE Zbigniew ‘SpeeD’ Kobak | REED 1 William Hendricks | REED 2 Camron Andrews | REED 3 Leagh Rankin | STAND-BY PIANISTS Andrew Ford (Cape Town) and David Cousins (Johannesburg)