True to its American 1920s inspiration, Edinburgh University Footlights have managed to not only create a night of magic on stage, but to transform the entire space into an immersive experience of 1920s Vaudeville. From the round cocktail tables up front, to the soft red candle light illuminating the orchestras brass instruments and sheet music – Chicago takes you to its bosom and makes you listen to its beating passionate heart. With astonishing singers such as Lauren Robinson (as Velma Kelly), Niam Higgins (as Matron 'Mama' Morton) and Matthew Storey (as Billy Flynn), anything less than amazing is simply not possible. In true 1920s fashion, they are surrounded by a whirling cast of ensemble members, who, quite literally, razzle and dazzle us away with their twirling and whirling. Expect to hear classics such as 'All that Jazz', 'Cell Block Tango' and 'Mr. Cellophane' all performed with as much honesty and enthusiasm you can expect from rightful crooks.
The high attention given to the choreography, under Florence Hardy's lead, elevates the neat performances to a highly professional level. It is refreshing to see the love and devotion given to the details that make a musical work, from the music performances, the actors and orchestra members' team play, to the lighting and clothing design –everything is coordinated in perfect harmony. Footlights manages to turn a script into an experience with just using the bare basics, raw talent, and a little bit of devious magic. Though I have never seen the original musical, nor the 2002 film, I'm in doubt if I would even want to spoil the experience of watching such a fantastic performance.
For the next few weeks to come, their evocative songs will certainly creep up on me again. As to what happens to anyone near me then? I didn't do it, he had it coming.
Chicago runs at the Pleasance Theatre until 8 February 2020.