Using the Kit Kat Club as a metaphor, Rufus Norris delivers a visual spectacle with CABARET
It’s testament to the popularity of hit musical CABARET that the Bill Kenwright’s production is back on the road just two years after its last UK tour starring Will Young and Louise Redknapp.
Set in Berlin in 1931, the multiple Tony award-winning musical follows American writer Cliff Bradshaw who stumbles across the seedy Kit Kat Club. Immediately spellbound by glamorous English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, Cliff is plunged into the seedy underground club scene. But behind the party lifestyle, pressure mounts as the Nazis rise to power, altering the lives of those in and around the Kit Kat Klub forever.
Using the Kit Kat Club as a metaphor, Director Rufus Norris once again delivers a visual spectacle with this latest touring production of CABARET. Katrina Lindsay’s slick set, Javier De Frutos’ spellbinding choreography and Tim Oliver’s inventive lighting design all combine to successfully juxtapose the excitement and erotic nature of the seedy nightclub with dark, politically-charged scenes that chill to the bone.
John Partridge impresses as Emcee, the driving force behind the story, perfectly embodying the sleaze of the club with his tongue-in-cheek delivery and pelvic thrusts. While Partridge’s accent is a little too thick for clarity at times, he successfully captures the menace the character and excels in his musical numbers, most notably I DON’T CARE MUCH.
Kara Lily Hayworth is equally strong as Sally Bowles, her performance of musical numbers MAYBE THIS TIME and CABARET particularly standing out as highlights, exposing the vulnerability of the character.
But real stars of the show are Anita Harris and James Paterson as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz respectively, the pair bringing much-needed heart and comic relief to this highly emotive piece.
Those familiar with the musical will know that CABARET is one of the darkest musicals ever written, its themes of violence, anti-Semitism, homosexuality and abortion, all playing heavy on the emotions. While its truly powerful climax is sure to stay with you, don’t expect to leave the theatre feeling uplifted.
Yet, the musical numbers written by John Kander and Fred Ebb remain as wonderful as ever, with standards such as WILKOMMEN, MAYBE THIS TIME, THE MONEY SONG and CABARET standing the test of time thanks to its their stunning melodies and blisteringly clever lyrics.
CABARET runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 29 February 2020
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.