For too long, Scotland’s theatres have lain empty, the stages gathering dust, staff on furlough, and performers and musicians left frustrated at home, having to twiddle their thumbs.
Glasgow’s King’s Theatre was dark for 544 days, being forced to shut on March 16 last year, the longest period for which it has ever been closed, as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
And it returned in style on Monday with a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery — all those things we all hold near and dear to our hearts.
The lights came back on at the Kings with Chicago, a story of guns, booze, jazz and getting away, quite literally, with murder.
Chicago is very much a tale that’s as relevant now as the 1920s upon which it’s based, with real-life court cases featuring glamorous women finding fame for their looks, rather than any obvious talent, and the classic Razzle Dazzle shows that a well-placed smile and a sob story can win the hearts of a gullible public.
Former Coronation Street star Faye Brookes took on the part of Roxie Hart, with Djalenga Scott as Velma Kelly, and the pair evidently had a ball playing out the hate-hate relationship between the pair, until they realise that their star burns brighter together.
Scott, like her big-screen counterpart Catherine Zeta-Jones, absolutely steals the show, with a physical performance to match her vocal gymnastics, as she bids to take back the limelight from Roxy. Brookes is first class too, getting laughs and sympathetic awwwws at the right time from the audience – despite the character having been shown to be a murderer.
Billy Flynn is brought to life by Darren Day, enjoying his star turn as a lawyer in the media spotlight – something to which Day has been no stranger in real life – and absolutely captures the arrogance and self-confidence that the part requires. Day, a seasoned veteran of the stage, is assured, and gives a brilliant performance of the man that you just love to hate.
Mama Morton is brought to life by eighties pop star and Simon Cowell’s erstwhile X Factor right-hand woman Sinitta. She offers a slightly different take on the part from the norm, and comes across as more ‘nice’ than the sassy performances which I’ve been accustomed to in other productions.
Completing the man cast are Joel Montague as Mr Cellophane, Roxy’s husband Amos Hart, who captured the hearts of the audience as his wife walked all over him and faded into the background.
Mary Sunshine was played with relish by Divina de Campo, a performer who has appeared on TV on The Voice and the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, adding a real touch of fun, showcasing her four-octave range.
The performers were clearly relishing the chance to showcase their talents once more, from the cast, to the musicians, to the front of house staff, and the lighting team.
Before the final curtain fell, Brookes stepped forward to thank their audience for returning to the theatre, and was met with a huge round of applause, as the people showed how much they have missed the Kings.
Thank goodness theatre is back to entertain the city. We need the emotions, we need the songs, we need the love, we need the drama, we need to see skilled performers showing their craft, and most of all, we need the feel good factor.
And all that jazz…
Theatre, welcome back.
Chicago, The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, running until Saturday September 18.
For more details and tickets, visit HERE.