Chicago Bristol Hippodrome

WELCOME to a seedy world where appearance is all, lies come thick and fast, murder is just part of 'the game', and where lives are made and broken by the publicity machine.

Politics in 2016?? Game of Thrones?? No, 1920s Chicago, as seen on stage this week at the Bristol Hippodrome.

This is a look at the underbelly of life with a twist of humour, more than a flash of cleavage and stocking tops and vibrant music, as the hit musical brings the world of the speakeasy to town, with hot jazz, smoochy torch songs, style and humour.

Chicago's seedy story of two murdering gals and their determined attempts to escape the noose and succeed is a fast-moving feast of song and dance right from the start, with the stage set taking you right into the heart of the action.

The music is what this musical is all about, and scenic designer John Lee Beatty's set puts the musicians at the heart of the stage. Musical director Ben Atkinson and his talented band get several chances to show off their own moves - to rapturous applause.

A big show needs big voices to carry it off, and Sophie Carmen-Jones, as Velma Kelly, and Hayley Tamaddon, as Roxie Hart, do battle in their duets to great effect. They're beaten hands down, however, by John Partridge, who clearly relishes the role of Billy Flynn, and Sam Bailey, who lets her vocal range loose on Mama Morton's selection of big numbers.

Choosing costumes in every shade of black and white in the first half, with colour only creeping in in the second act, culminating in Roxy and Velma's final, classic Bob Fosse number in front of a sparkling multi-coloured sequin backdrop, is surprisingly effective.

As for the action - well, this cast of dancers snap out a series of fast numbers with precision and panache, showing legs and tightly toned muscles that are to die for - and then there's the boys!

"Not sexy enough" was the verdict from my young companion, but I disagreed. Sometimes less is definitely more (not that you could have shown very much more) and the gymnastic acrobatics of some of the numbers was spectacular.

The show runs until July 9.