Murray Bridge Players and Singers’ Chicago, reviewed | PHOTOS

You might be familiar with Mari Reu, Robyn Bates and Trent Baker's recent work.

The Sound of Music, West Side Story and Into the Woods are remembered among the better shows put on by Murray Bridge Players and Singers, and Chicago – which opened on Friday night, and which I saw as a guest of the company – is up there with them.

The three directors have chosen a simple visual style for their production, with striking lighting effects instead of lavish backdrops, and a band which is a feature rather than something to be hidden away.

Chris Hodgen and the orchestra members kept the jazz score tight and entertained in their interactions with the cast.

After several years away from the company, Emma Love (Velma Kelly) returned a star, with a killer voice, convincing expressions and entrancing movements across the stage.

The mystery package was always going to be her co-star Peta Davis (Roxie Hart).

Well, she can sure sing, and her performance – now charmingly girlish, now vindictive – had the audience in the palm of her hand when the spotlight was on.

Rather than being the starry-eyed girl, her Roxie was the married woman who still clutched at her vaudeville dreams, and it worked.

Brendan Watts was almost unrecognisably grandpa-ish as her husband Amos Hart, and made great use of hand movements to illustrate his character, though his accent faded a little during musical numbers.

Cassie Brion deserves credit for her Mediterranean Mama Morton, who had stage presence and an outstanding voice.

Kurt Miegel played a younger-than-usual Billy Flynn, and made the lawyer sound sincere when he declared "all I care about is love"; but his singing was very good and he grew into the showy aspects of the role.

Joanne Ahrens (Mary Sunshine) stepped onto the stage like a character out of a Roald Dahl book, colourful, operatic and splashed with colour by the costume team.

Of course the chorus could have used more men but their absence was, as Billy would put it, “understandable”; they worked hard and looked good, though they could sometimes be hard to hear behind the leads' mics.

A highlight was Shae Schulz's provocative choreography, which shone whenever the whole chorus came together to rise and fall, twist and turn in waves.

The costumes were suitably glitzy, wonderfully so in the circus of "Razzle Dazzle".

The sets were simple but effective, and cleverly constructed for the Cell Block Tango, which the seven performers filled with an urgent energy.

The peripherals were well executed too, from the program to the chocolate cigars at interval.

Chicago will run for two more weekends at Murray Bridge Town Hall; tickets are available at trybooking.com/qpfp or on the door.