BY BILLY SUTER
THE music in the award-winning John Kander and Fred Ebb musical, Chicago – the KickstArt production of which opens in Durban next week (April 7) – is a bubbly brew of clever, yet complex arrangements taking inspiration mainly from 1920s jazz, but with elements of circus, opera and ragtime.
And the on-stage musical team that will be delivering nightly at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until April 30, in a production directed by Steven Stead, are excited about the prospect.
Some of Durban’s top musicians will be centrestage performing live for every performance of the sexy, razzle-dazzle show, designed by multi-award-winning Greg King and with lighting design by Tina le Roux.
Chicago follows KickstArt’s previous contemporary musicals Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Cabaret, all multiple award-winners.
The on-stage band will feature Evan Roberts (musical 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).
“I count myself as extremely honoured to be the MD of this production for many reasons: It’s the second-longest-running show in Broadway history after Phantom of the Opera; the film version won the Academy Award for Best Picture; it’s written and composed by musical theatre icons John Kander and Fred Ebb; and I am working with nine of Durban’s finest musicians,” says Roberts.
“The brilliance of the music in Chicago is evident not only in the several songs that are instantly recognisable to many – All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle and Cell Block Tango among them – but also in the clever, although complex arrangements.
“The music, storyline and character portrayal reflect themes we are accustomed to today: crime, sex, murder, alcohol and celebrity, to reflect the human condition as perceived in the 1920s… and 2017.”
Tony Award-winning Kander and Ebb, following on from their wonderful musical Cabaret, written in 1966, brought the vaudeville-inspired Chicago to life in 1975.
The team created 20 musicals – including Fosse and Kiss of the Spiderwoman –and also scored a number of movies, including the theme song for Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, a track which became a signature tune for both the film’s star, Liza Minnelli,and Frank Sinatra.
Kander and Ebb also wrote the Barbra Streisand film success, Funny Lady, the sequel to Funny Girl.
Chicago tells of vaudevillian showgirl Velma Kelly (Katy Moore), and housewife Roxie Hart (Jessica Sole), two murderesses who find themselves in jail awaiting trial – fighting for the fame that will keep them from the gallows.
Other characters pertinent to their tale are Billy (Jason Ralph), Mama Morton (Charon Williams-Ros), Mary Sunshine (Anne Marie Clulow) and Amos (Bryan Hiles).
Booking for Chicago is at Computicket. For enquiries for block bookings of 50 or more people/entire performances, contact Ailsa Windsor of Going Places at 083 250 2690.