I know, I know, this was ages ago, but I have wanted to review Cabaret for ages, but just got too busy – sorry!
This production of Cabaret, directed by Rufus Norris, stopped by the Mayflower in Southampton on its way to London, where you can still see it at the Savoy Theatre. Starring as the Emcee was Will Young, everyone’s favourite Pop Idol, with Michelle Ryan, late of Eastenders and The Bionic Woman, as Sally Bowles and the supporting cast included the legendary Sian Phillips and Harriet Thorpe.
As a production, I thought it was pretty good, with the bubbly numbers underlined with their much darker meanings and, while at times Will Young was a little too comedic, he was generally good at showing the sinister side of the Emcee. Michelle Ryan was, for me, one of the weaker elements of the production as, although Natasha Richardson showed in the 1998 Broadway revival that you don’t have to be a belter like Liza Minnelli to carry off the role of Sally, you do have to have presence and vulnerability which, sadly, wasn’t brought to the fore here.
Some of the set pieces, were excellent, including Mr Young in a fat suit made up of balloons in ‘Money Makes The World Go Around’ and a brilliant transition from innocence to evil in ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’, as the gentle, country folk of Germany become the Emcee’s increasingly militaristic and violent puppets. The end of the show was also chilling as the assorted characters that we know from the Kit Kat Klub are led to their supposed doom in a concentration camp. Definitely not your light and airy Rodgers and Hammerstein show!
The stand out performance for me was by Sian Phillips as Frau Schneider, whose doomed relationship with her tenant, a Jewish fruit vendor, is indicative of so many doomed relationships of that time and is quite a poignant part of the show, which I think was pretty much overlooked in the movie version.
I’d definitely recommend seeing the production if you can, even if there was perhaps a little more nudity than I has expected – hey I’m a fan of nudity where required, but this did seem a little unnecessary!
This production is only at the Savoy Theatre until 19th Jan, so hurry, hurry if it’s your cup of tea.