Theatre Review: CABARET – The Lowry, Salford

                                                       Photo Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

Elaborate and enthralling, CABARET stands the test of time in Bill Kenwright’s touring production

When it comes to musicals, CABARET is one of the all-time greats. Since its Broadway premiere in 1966 and the famous 1972 film starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, CABARET has won a staggering number of stage and screen awards including 8 Oscars, 7 BAFTAs and 13 Tonys. No surprise then that Bill Kenwright decided to take his hit West End show out on a UK tour.

Set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, CABARET focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub. The story revolves around young American writer Cliff Bradshaw who finds himself dragged into a turbulent whirlwind of cabaret dancers, smuggling and politics, as well as a relationship with 32-year-old English cabaret performer Sally Bowles. The musical features some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre including WILLKOMMEN, MEIN HERR, MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND, TWO LADIES, MAYBE THIS TIME and of course, CABARET.

Elaborate, exciting and incredibly enthralling, Bill Kenwright’s touring production of CABARET takes the heart and soul of the original and rises it to a whole new level. From Javier de Frutos’s show-stopping choreography to Katrina Lindsay’s stunning set design, every inch of this seamless and dynamic production directed by Rufus Norris successfully captures the hedonistic atmosphere of 30’s Berlin, from its sensual perversions to its dark and brutal undertones.

                                                       Photo Credit: Pamela Raith Photography

Will Young reprises his critically acclaimed performance as host Emcee. From the moment he appears on stage, Young lifts the energy, radiating a strange charisma and creating a new level of depth to the sinister and stylized character. Numbers such as MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND and IF YOU COULD SEE HER are performed with depth and spot-on irony, while I DON’T CARE MUCH is hauntingly beautiful.

Former pop star Louise Redknapp equally impresses as Sally Bowles, the role famously played by Liza Minelli in the 1972 film. Sporting a cropped bob and fishnet tights, Redknapp certainly looks the part and proves herself more than capable of handling the show’s bigger moments. The only real disappointment is her vocals are sometimes overpowered by the orchestra, leaving you wanting more, particularly on numbers like MAYBE THIS TIME.

That said, all of the cast are a joy to watch, especially Charles Hagerty as Cliff, Susan Penhaligon as Fraulein Schneider and Linal Haft as Herr Schultz, all of whom come dangerously close to stealing the show at times.

The material also still stands the test of time, and still feels strikingly relevant and powerful. Norris’ chilling and unexpected ending is also incredibly poignant, leaving you with a feeling of deep unease as you exit the theatre. A fabulous revival of an all-time classic.

4 out of 5 stars

CABARET runs at The Lowry until 11 November 2017