Ilse Klink and Samantha Peo. Picture: Christiaan Kotze.

Cape Town - A Nightclub singer, a double-murderess, a smooth-talking lawyer and a cell block of sin surrounded by the world’s sexiest musical (and all that jazz). 

After an 11 year hiatus, Chicago the Musical has returned to Cape Town with an all-South African cast and a healthy dose of razzle-dazzle. 

Velma Kelly murders her husband and Chicago’s slickest lawyer Billy Flynn gets ready to defend her, but when housewife Roxie Hart also winds up in prison, Billy takes up her case as well turning her into a media circus of headlines. 

Neither woman wants to be outshone by the other in their quest for public fame and celebrity. 

The latest incarnation of the show, which was first staged in South Africa in 2005,  features veterans Samantha Peo and Ilse Klink taking up the roles of Velma Kelly and Mama Morten, while rising theatre star Carmen Pretorius stars as Roxie Hart and Craig Urbani is Billy Flynn. 

The cast has been touring the show around the world and began last year in New Zealand, before traveling to China. The South African leg kicks off this week, and will also feature shows in Johannesburg. 

Klink, who returns as Mama Morten, said the opportunity to play a unique character keeps on attracting her to the role.  

“She’s a warder, in charge of the girls, corrupt, manipulative and I don't think those kinds of characters come around every day in musical theatre and it was the essence of that that I wanted to play this character again.

“I also wanted to see how it's (Mama Morten)  grown, as an actor having more confidence and being older has been a real advantage to be closer to the age that she would have been and she’s more mature,” said Klink.  

She said because Chicago is a well-known musical the music and dancing have to be spot on.  

“The show is a formula so you can’t really go out of bounds but it's also imperative that you put your own stamp on it in terms of acting. 

“Mama doesn't do any dancing so you’re more rounded in the physicality of it and obviously the dancers have to be sexy, which is a major requirement but they are sexy all the cast are,” she said. 

Samantha Peo played Roxie in the 2005 and 2008 productions but was taken by surprise when she was offered the role of Velma. 

“Whatever I’ve learned in life is brought out in the role and what I’ve learned in the role comes out in life and Velma is so perfect for this time in my life. She says anything that comes to her, she’s sassy, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks, she shoots from the hip, she’s honest but very sexual and sensual. 

“For me performing it from the inside it’s the best role I’ve played to date and it feels the most connected and most fun,” said Peo. 

Chicago The Musical is on at the Artscape Theatre until April 14. Tickets are available from Computicket. 

Weekend Argus