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Review: Chicago The Musical, at Phoenix Theatre

Hollywood star Cuba Gooding Jr brings charm, charisma and smooth dance moves to much-loved show

19 April, 2018 — By Catherine Usher

Cuba Gooding Jnr in Chicago. Photo: Tristram Kenton

YOU can’t get more Hollywood than having an Oscar-winning movie star in the cast – and shimmying into the role filled by the likes of David Hasselhoff on stage and Richard Gere in the 2002 film is none other than Cuba Gooding Jr.

Known to recent audiences for his captivating portrayal of OJ Simpson in The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, this time Gooding Jr is the lawyer not the suspect, and he delights in the light-hearted tone of his character.

His singing voice is tolerable rather than brilliant, but he has all the charm, charisma and smooth dance moves needed to bring the required swagger to the role of smarmy lawyer Billy Flynn.

Surrounded by seasoned West End performers in full jazz hands mode, such as Ruthie Henshall as an unusually svelte Mama Morton, Gooding Jr’s star turn is comparatively understated, but the show is definitely a comedy sinister yet feelgood experience, triumphantly led by the Marilyn Monroe-inspired, blonde bimbo behaviour of Sarah Soetaert’s Roxie Hart.

She contrasts perfectly with the vampy allure of Josefina Gabrielle’s Velma Kelly, who is as brazen and cynical as her rather tragic life has forced her to become.

Packed full of wise and witty tunes (performed by an excellent band) and impressive dancers with even more impressive figures, Chicago is a fun and feisty experience, enhanced by the presence of a dashing Hollywood A-lister.

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this new West End production, but all the elements are present to create a crowd-pleasing rerun of this much-loved show.

Until October 6
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