Menu
National Operatic & Dramatic Association
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Chicago

Date

21st June 2019

Society

Paisley Musical & Operatic Society

Venue

Websters Theatre, Glasgow

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Blair Ledgerwood-Cruikshank

Musical Director

Sean Stirling

Choreographer

Greg Robertson

Report

Author: Craig Inglis

Well where do I start! It would be simpler to list all the names of the cast and crew followed by a massive congratulations and thank you for sharing their immense talent, vision and wonderful show.  However, that wouldn’t make for a good show report, so please bear with me as I try to highlight the key features within this outstanding show. Chicago has only just popped onto the amateur scene with few productions taking place, and I was very privileged to have watched and enjoyed PMOS’s production at the very atmospheric Websters Theatre in Glasgow. A smaller venue than the club is normally used to, but this only seemed to add to the magic of the production and was proved to be no issue for the talented production team, cast, crew and backstage helpers. For Chicago to be a success you need two key players whose journey we follow, in the form of Roxie and Velma played by two powerhouse actresses, Lisa Dutch and Jennifer Hardie. Both excelled in their respective roles. Jennifer brought to Velma a strong character with impressive vocals, effortless dancing and flawless acting along with an air of professionalism that made the character an accomplished triumph. Lisa gave us a witty and quirky Roxie utilising her impeccable comic timing, faultless character acting, beautiful voice and polished dancing. Both worked well together, and with their fellow cast, and had the audience in the palm of their hands, much like the jury in the trial. Keeping Roxie and Velma in line, along with the rest of the inmates at the Cook County Jail, was Susie Thompson McMahon as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton. Another sublime performance showcasing Susie’s strong and controlled vocals as she dominated the stage in each of her scenes. The suave and charismatic Billy Flynn was captured exceptionally well by Gary Bennet who with a calm nature managed to manipulate the strong women around him and again had the audience hanging on his every word. In particular his number “We Both Reached for the Gun” was superb, and Lisa’s fascial expressions just perfect. In contrast to the confident Billy is the shy, naive, innocent and slightly dim Amos, played by Craig Ledgerwood-Cruikshank.  Craig’s characterisation was consistent throughout and he cleverly and comically merged into the background when required, but made his presence known with his fantastic vocals in his version of ‘Mr Cellophane’. Adding the light relief and perfect comedy touches during the show was the genius casting of Jim McPhee as Mary Sunshine. Another triumph of a performance keeping the audience in stiches. Other significant characters in the principal line up were; Greg Robertson as a very striking Fred Casely, Robin Cameron as Sergeant Fogarty and the impeccable Christina Leon as Kitty. One of the outstanding numbers in the show was the ‘Cell Block Tango’. The lighting was excellent and added very much to the choreography and feel of the number and was led by; Jennifer Hardie as Velma, Eilish Brand (Mona), Claire Robertson (Liz), Catherine Ross (Hunyak), Caroline Telfer (June) and Heather McNellis (Annie). The individual characterisation was evident from each girl and in particular Claire Robertson’s accent and fascial expressions as Liz were great. The number was completed, as all the others were by an exceptionally strong ensemble. The dancing used to depict each murderesses story was smart and executed with style. This was a constant theme for all numbers with the ensemble of 17 proving themselves triple threats over an array of characters, with sass, style and sex appeal oozing from the stage. In particular Aly Lamond and Eilish Brand’s dancing was on point in the fosse style and a huge ‘hats off’ to the boys for mastering the technical aspects of the impressive lifts used throughout the show especially in ‘Roxie’, where Lisa was nearly never on the ground. This meticulous ensemble completed a “razzel dazzling” cast of performers who it was evident gave their all to their performances. Backing up the cast was an ingenious set, creative lighting and a beautiful sounding orchestra. Huge congrats to Blair, Sean, Greg and the rest of the production team and stage crew on their commitment to the show’s success. I would also like to commend the stunning costumes and wardrobe team of Jacqui, Margaret, Fiona and Vickie for pulling it all together to create one consistent look. Overall, a fantastic production from PMOS proving that the club is going from strength to strength and the world of amateur theatre in District 4 and Scotland is as exciting and diverse as ever.