Cabaret at The Churchill Theatre
Cabaret tells the story of residents on Berlin in 1930-1931. We meet Cliff Bradshaw who is an American writer who has come to Berlin to write his novel. On his first night in Berlin he meets Sally Bowles, a performer at the Kit Kat Club. Whilst Cliff is very much aware of the political tension Sally chooses to bury her head and drink prairie oysters instead. Cliff rents his room off Fraulein Schneider who during the course of the musical accepts an offer of marriage from Herr Schultz, one of her lodgers who owns a fruit shop and happens to be Jewish. This is all set against the backdrop of the Kit Kat Klub, the performers there and the numbers they perform.
I’m a huge fan of the show and having choreographed it and performed in it I can be difficult to please on this one but this is possibly the best performance of Cabaret I have seen. The show really got the heart of the underlying themes. The homosexual relationship between Cliff and Bobby, one of the Kit Kat Club boys was brought to the fore rather than swept under the carpet like it is in some productions. The tension regarding the Nazi’s parties rise to power always felt as if it was simmering under the surface and the show was all the better for it.
The scenes set in the Kit Kat Klub and fronted by Emcee were some of the most enjoyable moments of the show. They provided a real feast for the eyes on all fronts. The Emcee was played by John Partridge and he was brilliantly quirky in the role. The choreography for numbers such as ‘Mein Herr’ was a real feat. Javier De Frutos had his Kit Lat Klub dancers contorting around a moving staircase and Kara Lily Hayworth as Sally Bowles delivered this killer number from the top of it.
Director, Rufus Norris had a real vision which came across throughout the show. The show moved swiftly from one scene to the next with the cast undertaking the scene changes themselves, often with interesting exchanges as they do so. When performing at the Kit Kat Club the stage was surrounded in light bulbs with the Kit Kat Klub sign constantly being present which contrasted starkly with Cliff’s basic room.
Cliff’s solo number ‘Why Should I Wake Up’ was staged beautifully and gave us a real feel of Cliff’s life in Berlin. It was unlike any other interpretation of this number I’ve seen.
The whole cast were incredibly strong. Kara Lily Hayworth’s Sally Bowles was bewitching. Whilst she delivered the numbers powerfully the character was always at the forefront of everything she did. Anita Harris and James Paterson played Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultuz who were heartbreaking in the roles.
I also must mention the costumes designed by Katrina Lindsay. The costumes that the Kit Kat Club dancers are ensconced in are set at just the right level – sexy but not seedy and across the whole cast they were spot on for the period and feel of the show.
This is an incredibly classy production of Cabaret and the best version of this show that I have seen. It ensures that the gritty undertone is never lost whilst maintaining these incredible production numbers.
Cabaret is playing at the Churchill Theatre until Saturday 31st August. To find out more information and get tickets visit their website.