Kander and Ebb’s world-famous musical Cabaret has spurted lots of adaptations since its Broadway premiere in 1966, including the acclaimed 1972 film starring the outstanding Liza Minelli. Rufus Norris’ revival of Cabaret takes the stages around the UK in 2017 with lots of praise and applaud.


The show is set in 1931 pre-war Berlin, with the atmosphere slowly darkening with the rise of the Nazis. Young American author Clifford Bradshaw arrives in Berlin just before New Years’ with the hopes of finally finishing his novel. He is quickly swept up into the grand, swirling and glitzy lifestyle of Berlin and its notorious Club scene. Cliff meets English singer and headliner Sally Bowles in the glorious Kit Kat Club and soon they live together in Fräulein Schneider’s boarding house. With the eccentric and sailor-loving Fräulein Kost and the Jewish fruit shop owner Herr Schultz also living in the boarding house the majority of the show takes place in it, and the Kit Kat Club.


The star of the show is definitely the Emcee, portrayed once again by the amazing Will Young. He captures the attention of the audience from the very start with the grandiose opening number ‘Willkommen’. Throughout the show, his character continues to be the red thread that connects the different parts and stories of the show. He also presents a form of comic relief during the second and darker Act of the musical, which was rather relieving.


Sally Bowles is being portrayed by Louise Redknapp who gives her stage debut in this production, following her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing. Her dancing and singing are magnificent, her voice strong and capturing – especially her rendition of ‘Maybe This Time’. Unfortunately, her acting is slightly disappointing and lacks depth, her lines often come off as monotone and mechanical.


Charles Hagerty as Cliff Bradshaw is brilliant, presenting a contrast to the shimmering characters of Sally and the Emcee. He, contrary to Sally and the Emcee, is anxious about the changes happening in Berlin – Hagerty’s character serves as a moral compass – grasping the sobering reality of soon-to-become Nazi Germany.


The heart of the story turns out to be the budding romance between the Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. Susan Penhaligon as the landlady Fräulein Schneider is absolutely excellent and tends to steal the show from whoever she shared the stage with. Linal Haft’s interpretation of the Jewish character Herr Schultz wins over the audience with a soft voice and charming personality. Their love story is ill-fated, however, and Fräulein Schneider’s practical decision to end their engagement is due to the threat that is presented by the rise of the Nazis.


Javier de Frutos keeps the choreography true to its roots, it is a dazzling whirlwind, a saucy and glittering depiction of the Kit Kat Club. The cast is supported by an enticing Ensemble, who uphold and further prove the greatness of this show.


The ending was very powerful but I was honestly quite taken aback by the visualization of the last scene. I did not expect it to be as harsh and visual as it was, the indication to the concentration camp in Auschwitz very palpable. However, it did not lessen the greatness of this adaption.


Guest Reviewer: Leonie Verstegge

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