Cabaret is set in Berlin in 1931 in the underworld of clubs, particularly, The Kit Kat Klub. It’s New Year’s Eve and midnight is about to strike when American author, Cliff Bradshaw, enters the club. English cabaret performer, Sally Bowles, immediately has Cliff under her enchanting spell as Cliff is pulled into her world of cabaret clubs and parties. We also meet the German landlady, Fraulein Schneider, as well as her Jewish fruit vendor and, soon to be, suitor, Herr Schultz. In the midst of these storylines, the political pressure is rising as the Nazi party gains power in Germany, infiltrating the lives of the characters in our story until they can ignore it no longer.
The musical starts with our introduction to the first character, the Emcee, or Master of Ceremonies who is masterfully played by John Partridge. He is initially revealed behind the ‘O’ of the ‘Wilkommen’ sign that welcomes us to the theatre. The Emcee is wonderfully wild and wacky with the right amount of sleaze as he weaves his way through the dancers of his club and delivers all of his comedy line with wonderful timing and expressions.
As Sally Bowles, Kara Lilly Hayworth’s acting was suitably crazy and sexy, combined into the sultry cabaret dancer. Her first song, ‘Mein Herr’ was a feast for the eyes with choreography from Hayworth and the incredible ensemble. However, vocally it was slightly anti-climatic and didn’t blow the audience away quite as much as the number is famous for so doing. This was perhaps due to technical issues, as there seemed to be some muted-ness on the mics and hiccoughs like this are to be expected in a new theatre. However, Hayworth’s vocal performance in ‘Perfectly Marvellous Girl’ and ‘Maybe This Time’ showed the audience that she is an incredible performer and ‘Mein Herr’ was not representative of her talents.
Anita Harris truly stole the show as Fraulein Schneider, which was tear-jerkingly emotive and took the audience with her on the journey that her character was experiencing. This was contrasted with Herr Schultz, played by James Paterson, who provided some light comic relief during his drunken scene at the engagement party and his naïve belief about his fate as a Jewish man in the political scene of the time.
This was a perfect revival of Cabaret that brought it beautifully into the present day. I would definitely recommend you get down to Festival Theatre before the end of the week and catch this wonderful show!
PHOTOS: The Other Richard