The musical originally based on a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse with music by John Kander,and lyrics by Fred Ebb, has been a Broadway favourite for decades.
The Durban version, directed by Steven Stead features a live nine piece band with talents of Evan Roberts (music director, conductor and piano), Sidney Rash (drums), Ildo Nandja (bass), Siyanda Zulu (trumpet), Duncan Woolridge (trombone), Reanne De Klerk (sax and clarinet), Salim Washington (sax, clarinet and flute), Jane Baillie (violin) and Ryan Canning (piano).
And acting talents of Katy Moore as Velma Kelly and Jessica Sole as Roxie Hart.
The musical centres on the 20’s jazz age of Chicago where newspapers and radios loved a scandal and used glamorous crimes to sell papers.
“Velma Kelly is the darling of the press, but she is in jail on murder charges and her smooth and sleazy lawyer, Billy Flynn (Jason Ralph) is working the publicity to its maximum. All of a sudden Roxie lands up in jail and becomes the new darling of the press. She milks every opportunity and cheats and lies her way through the process with one thing in mind – stardom,”said music director, Evean Roberts.
The story continues when Roxie and Velma clash, but Roxie soon finds out that the life of a celebrity can be short lived when a new, more glamorous girl is jailed for murder, and the now clamour around her.
“In a bittersweet ending, Roxie and Velma, after being acquitted, team up to form a new act. It’s not much different today, people are jailed for serious offences, write a book about it and become rich and famous,”said Roberts.
Also in the cast are Mama Morton (Charon Williams Ros), Mary Sunshine (Anne Marie Clulow) and Amos (Bryan Hiles).
Roberts, said what makes this musical the second longest running show in Broadway history behind Phantom of the Opera, is its timelessness, significance and its relevance to today's society.
“By using significant forms of pastiche, the music, storyline and character portrayal reflect themes we are accustomed to today. The absolute brilliance of the music and lyric composition is that each diverse character has his or her own musical style. It’s as if the music suggests how one would stereotypically view the diverse characters. Taking their inspiration mainly from 1920’s jazz, but also including elements of circus, opera and rag time,”he said.
The show ozers gritty sex appeal together with a slew of fabulous show stopping numbers like All that Jazz, When You’re Good to Mama, Cell Block Tango, Mister Cellophane and Razzle Dazzle.
Roberts said with the entire cast and band relying on him to be accurate he is not allowed even for a second to let his mind wonder.
“Between the band, the music, the cast and the audience response, it’s an adrenaline high of note. As the musical director, apart from playing the piano, I also conduct the band and count each song in on a specific cue. It’s hard work in that I have to concentrate 100 percent on every single word, lyric, note, tempo and cue. Whilst it is a lot of pressure, it makes me very happy and privileged to work among some of the best performers,”said Robert.