The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

25/11/2017 - 20/01/2018

Production Details

Murder, Fame and all that Jazz.  

Welcome to a world where celebrity is everything, sex sells and you can get away with murder if you razzle-dazzle the media. The Court Theatre’s Chicago holds a dark mirror up to society in this razor-sharp satire.

In 1920s Chicago, wannabe vaudeville performer Roxie Hart murders her lover in a jealous rage and finds herself at the centre of a media circus. Sent to Cook County Prison, Roxie encounters the Six Merry Murderesses, Velma Kelly, and hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn. With its mix of sex, sin and show-stopping tunes, Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.

Stephen Robertson and Richard Marrett have helmed a string of hit summer musicals at The Court Theatre, including Grease, Mary Poppins, and Legally Blonde the Musical. As Musical Director, Marrett oversees the sound of iconic musical numbers like “All That Jazz”, “Roxie” and “They Both Reached for the Gun”; Robertson takes on the triple tasks of Director, Choreographer and Costume Designer. Working closely with Set Designer Harold Moot, Robertson oversees almost every visual aspect of the show. The role is challenging, but “brings continuity,” says Robertson. “I can see the whole production in my mind and visualise the colours, bodies and designs.” 

The creative team have embraced the setting of prohibition-age Chicago. “We made the decision early on to take it back to its roots and set it in the mid-20s” says Robertson. “I love the era – visually there’s so much to tap into for the stage and the costumes. It’s more faithful to the original than you’d see on Broadway.” 

Finding the right double act to play Roxie and Velma was key, with countless performers auditioning for the roles. “It was a juggling act to find the right chemistry” says Robertson. Fortunately, the creative team found their perfect Roxie in Nomi Cohen (previously seen in The Court’s Legally Blonde the Musical) and Velma in Darlene Mohekey (from TV One’s Facelift). Robertson says both actresses “blew all of us away” with their auditions.

As a bonus unknown to the production team during casting, Cohen and Mohekey are good friends who have performed together previously, making their on-stage rapport (and rivalry) that much easier. “We found out at the same time,” says Cohen. “In that moment, I not only realised I got the role but that I completely trust my on-stage counterpart.”

Both Cohen and Mohekey are excited about the style of the production. “The costumes are stunning,” says Cohen. Mohekey agrees. “It will feel more like a transportation back in time. It will have those magic moments of a live musical where the stage is transformed in front of your eyes.”

Artistic Director of The Court Theatre, Ross Gumbley, believes that Chicago resonates strongly for modern audiences. “Maurice Dallas Watkins wrote the original stage play as satire, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that she was being prophetic. All around us we increasingly see celebrity trump substance; social media or spin drowning out the truth; and scandal after scandal fighting for the spotlight. With Chicago, you get a show that speaks to today wrapped up with some of the best songs in Broadway history.”

Step back into the 1920s and enjoy one of musical theatre’s most iconic shows: a tale of exploitation, adultery, fame, greed, corruption, murder, and all that jazz.

The Court Theatre, Christchurch
25 Nov 2017 – 20 Jan 2018

Show Times:
6.30pm: Monday & Thursday
7.30pm: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat
Forum 6:30pm Monday 27 November – Discuss the play with cast and creative team after the performance
2.00pm Saturday 16 December: Matinee 

Ticket Prices:
Adult:    $68-$75
Child (U18):  $42-$50
Senior 65yrs+:   $56-$63
Group 6+:   $53-$60
Court Supporter:  $53-$60
30 Below:   $30
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit

Velma Kelly: Darlene Mohekey
Roxie Hart: Nomi Cohen
Billy Flynn: Roy Snow
Mama Morton: Eilish Moran
Mary Sunshine: Isaac Pawson
Amos Hart: Rutene Spooner
Male Ensemble/Dance Captain: Jeremy Hinman
Male Ensemble:  Olly Humphries Jack Marshall Fergus Inder Oliver Davidson Ben Freeth Craig Lough
Female Ensemble:  Kira Josephson Melinda Joe Bianca Paine Jane Leonard Brylee Lockhart  Hillary Moulder Allis Oliver-Kerby 

Musical Director: Richard Marrett
Trumpet: Cameron Pearce
Trombone: Pablo Ruiz Henao
Reeds: Reuben Derrick
Drums: Tim Sellars
Bass: Michael Story
Assistant Musical Director/Repetiteur: Matt Everingham
2nd Keys Sub: Hamish Oliver
Trumpet sub: Iain MacLachlan 
Bass sub: Richard Pickard  

Director: Stephen Robertson
Musical Director: Richard Marrett
Choreographer /Costume Designer: Stephen Robertson
Stage Manager: Ashlyn Smith 
Set Designer: Harold Moot
Lighting Designer (The Light Site): Grant Robertson 
Sound Designers (Bounce): Ben Rentoul & Glen Ruske
Assistant Stage Manager: Emma Shaw
Lighting Operator: Darren McKane
Sound Operator: Stephen Compton
Properties Manager: Christy Lassen
Head of Costume: Sarah Douglas
Wigs: Sarah Buchanan
Head Technician: Giles Tanner
Construction & Premises Manager: Bryce Goddard
Production Manager: Flore Charbonnier

Theatre , Musical ,

Tremendously enjoyable with a thought-provoking punch

Review by Lindsay Clark 26th Nov 2017

Summer has really arrived when another scintillating production from the dream team of Robertson and Marrett takes the stage at The Court. Shady doings in seedy surroundings and an ineffectual justice system may be the basic stuff of the plot, but the high voltage sizzle generated by this production is its defining characteristic, marking another holiday season triumph for the company.

On one hand the 1975 treatment of two real life 1920s murders in crime-ridden Chicago follows the fickle sensationalism courted and exaggerated by the print medium of the day. “Murder in this town is a form of entertainment.” On the other hand, and at a deeper level, we have a vision of the corruption of power, whether in jail or legal practice. ‘Jazz’ and ‘cool’ are little more than temporary distractions. A satirical, even cynical take on the world then, but so coloured by cast, band and creative team that theatricality is celebrated above all. 

Harold Moot’s art deco stage design sets the tone of elegant decadence, with sliding panels establishing prison scenes or fluidly presenting the band and dais for some splendid entrance reveals. It works well for the Brechtian style of presentation where the illusion of a fourth wall between stage and audience is broken, with direct address and stylised playing establishing a very clear take on events.   

Indeed every aspect of the production enhances the concept.  Ravishing costuming and choreography (Robertson again), evocative lighting from Grant Robertson and of course the vibrant music which underscores the whole, make for a riveting spectacle, transforming the original play script created in 1926 by the Chicago Tribune reporter who covered two murders by young women and their subsequent manipulation of the justice system. The paired stories of their 1975 versions, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, make for a double whammy, as well as introducing a sharp element of competition between the two.

Their world and ‘progress’ is charted by songs, many of them classics which endure for their irresistible rhythms and melodies. ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Mister Cellophane’ and ‘Razzle Dazzle’ are standouts but all have immediate impact and are delivered with real class throughout the performance. The band, under Richard Marrett’s fine control, sets the mood and pace with assured skill. 

Supported by a flawless ensemble, the cast polishes up the brazenly self-seeking characters until we forget about their motives and just enjoy the sparkle. It has to be noted though that Rutene Spooner (Mr Cellophane), who alone on the stage is dressed in drab working man outfit and who is the only unselfish one there (he keeps the faith loyally with treacherous Roxie), nevertheless earns warm applause.

Roxie herself is a lithe dolly of undeniable charm. Nomi Cohen has her winsome ways and fickle plans beautifully rendered. In Velma Kelly, the tough broad who greets us with “Hello,suckers!” Darlene Mohekey finds rich material for a dynamic performance.

Their lawyer, Billy Flynn, played by Roy Snow, is the epitome of smooth corruption, courting the media pack even as he outplays them in their boundless appetite for sensation. Reporter Mary Sunshine (Isla Alexander) underlines the shallowness of that quest as she chortles about ‘A Little Bit of Good’ (in everyone). Adding her gutsy talent to this darkly fascinating world, Eilish Moran creates, in Mama Morton, ‘Countess of the Clink’ and prison tyrant, a truly forceful presence. Her duet ‘Class’, with Velma late in the second half, is especially fine.

Any way you look at it, the production is a winner, not only for the superb talents on view, but for the needle it sticks to us about celebrity obsession and its comment on corruption. There are no answers of course, but neither is there consolation that all this (sort of) happened a long time ago.

Ultimately, it is tremendously enjoyable musical theatre with a punch and if we are jolted into a little thoughtfulness, that is a bonus. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council