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CABARET

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 5th Oct 2017 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

The Opera House, Blackpool Winter Gardens, until Saturday 7th October

Put down the knitting, the book and the broom…and come join the Cabaret in Blackpool this weekend. But prepare to be shocked as well as entertained because this dark, sometimes funny, often thought-provoking musical delivers much more than memorable song and dance routines.

Set in the seedy Kit Kat Club, during a time of tyranny in 1930s Berlin, the tangled lives of Cabaret’s main characters hurtle along a path of destruction in parallel with the horrifying consequences of the Nazis’ rise to power.

The award-winning team of director Rufus Norris and choreographer Javier De Frutos has created a spectacle of decadence and debauchery; underpinned by the unlikely love story of American writer Cliff Bradshaw, played with engaging intensity by Charles Hagerty, and the promiscuous, risqué English cabaret performer Sally Bowles - aka TV celebrity and singer Louise Redknapp. Famed for her success in 90s R&B girl group Eternal, Louise is a natural on stage. With a voice powerful enough to fill the massive Opera House auditorium, she is both distracting and inspiring. Perfectly Marvellous in fact.

As a fan of 80s TV sitcom, A Fine Romance, and the character Helen played by Susan Penhaligon, it was a real treat to see her on stage as the German boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider, performing the amusing, sentimental duets with Linal Haft as the Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz; and her rendition of So What? was just lovely.

But the biggest impact of all came from singer and Pop Idol winner Will Young, whose portrayal of the flamboyant, androgynous and ghoulish Emcee is simply mesmerising. I would see Cabaret again for his performance alone.

The other main characters and ensemble execute the script and choreography with just the right amount of abandon to shock – but not too much.

There are some brilliantly staged scenes, such as the Emcee looming above the dancers as a puppeteer pulling their strings, a fast and furious rendition of Money – and a very clever back to front sequence where Sally’s show at the Kit Kat Club goes on eerily behind a fringed curtain, as though we are backstage looking on.

The Opera House, which features one of world’s largest stages, is ideal for the dramatic set design, from the enormous WILLKOMMEN sign, to the dazzling giant letters spelling KABARET and live band perched on a light-framed platform in the backdrop.

 

In 1966 Walter Kerr was famously quoted in the New York Times as saying that Cabaret “opens the door to a fresh notion of the bizarre, crackling, harsh and the beguiling uses that can be made of song and dance.”

Today Cabaret still does that - this surprising, politically charged yet hugely watchable show, with whirling dancing and wry lyrics spinning the characters on a decadent high, before they fall, unravelling, as the Nazis become an oppressive presence, and a tragic finale shows the party is well and truly over.

Highly recommended.

Book tickets here.

Tour dates here.

Comments

3 Comments

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 month ago
    Thanks, Kirstie. This sounds amazing. I can't believe I haven't seen this production yet!
  • Kirstie Niland
    by Kirstie Niland 1 month ago
    I hadn't seen it before either, seriously good, especially Will Young. See it if you can, it's on Tue 14th Nov - Sat 18th November in Edinburgh.
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 month ago
    When it's THIS highly recommended, it would be rude not to! :)
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