A thing that rarely happens these days is me watching a musical in Germany. The reason is simple: I am tired of the lack of quality you find in so many productions over here. That and the fact that ticket prices in Germany are often simply ridiculous. I mean, 140 Euros for a top price seat?! Please!! And no TKTS, no decent online offers, no day seats…. no wonder musicals in Germany are often struggling to find an audience.
But a new German musical being staged in the Capitol Theater in Düsseldorf – I definitely had to see that. I admit the fact that one of the few German performers I support was going to be on stage (playing a female singer!) did help to convince me to get a ticket.
So, off I went to my first trip to the Capitol Theater in what felt like ages. I used to be a regular there back in the days of Miami Nights and Saturday Night Fever. But since then I can count my visits on one hand.
I’ve always found the theatre to be a nice but not very up to date venue. The stage is not suited for most big productions due to the lack of a proper sub-stage area. However this was no problem for this show or let’s say: They managed to stage the show despite the not ideal situation.
Kein Pardon is a musical based on a German film from 1993 by Hape Kerkeling (Comedian, writer, TV show host etc.). It tells the story of Peter Schlönzke who is a huge fan of tv show “Witzigkeit kennt keine Grenzen” and its host Heinz Wäscher and who ends up becoming the host of said tv show himself. I don’t think an in depth summary will do any good here – the whole story and all the jokes are too much of a German (or better: Ruhrgebiet) thing to make any sense to anyone who is not familiar with that.
Which brings to a slight problem this show could experience: If you don’t know the movie I suspect you either won’t be interested in the show at all or you won’t understand all the little jokes that have been transferred from screen to stage. They are well done – no doubt about it – but I experienced it myself while watching the show: I was laughing about certain things that my friend found just strange…. she didn’t know the movie so couldn’t relate to the jokes that are simply classics for me.
That put aside I think the people in charge have done a good job in putting the movie on stage. You can’t (and shouldn’t attempt) to do a one to one transfer – it just never works. So while some bits were missing the whole story still made sense and managed to provide an entertaining evening in the theatre.
What bugged me a little was the lack of character depth. I know it’s hard to properly develop a character during a 2 hour show. In this show however I felt no connection with several of the characters simply because I knew absolutely nothing about them. Sadly this has been my problem with a lot of shows directed by Alex Balga. He seems to concentrate more on quick scene changes than on the different roles in a show which is a shame. Plus he definitely is the master of copying – even from his own shows! Everyone that knows Miami Nights: Just look at the colours of the dancers’ costumes at the end of Kein Pardon – it’s the Miami Nights ballroom dance scene all over again: Yellow, light blue, dark blue, orange….
The songs in the show are not bad but beside the well known title track and “Das ganze Leben ist ein Quiz” none of them got stuck in my head. It’s been less than a week since I’ve seen the show and I couldn’t hum the melody to any of the songs beside those two.
I was happy with most of the cast. Roberta Valentini did a good job as Ulla. She definitely has a great voice. I wish her part would stand out a bit more though. This could be a nice female lead part but I didn’t get any deeper information about Ulla and her motives which means I simply didn’t care for her. But still, Roberta did well with what was given to her from the writers and the director.
Enrico De Pieri is perfectly cast for the male lead Peter Schlönzke – he even looks a bit like Hape Kerkeling who played the part in the movie. I’m not too sure about his singing I admit – his voice seemed a bit weak but that might have been due to the sound in general (the music was simply too loud and drowned out the singing).
Dirk Bach (Heinz Wäscher) was off sick so I got to see the understudy Gerhard Fehn who did really well. He seemed a bit nervous here and there but that’s understandable considering he’d hardly had any rehearsals. I don’t really understand why they’ve got an understudy in this show that isn’t able to play the complete part though. Usually the guy who plays Heinz Wäscher also plays the singer Uschi Blum in the second act. However Gerhard Fehn didn’t which ment I got to see Björn Klein make an appearance as a woman. I’m certainly not complainingn (after all that was my main reason for watching the show that day) – I just don’t understand the reason for this. Why not cast an understudy that is able to do the whole part?
I really liked Verena Plangger and Wolfgang Trepper as Oma and Opa Schlönzke – spot on and very funny. Iris Schumacher did well as Hilde Schlönzke but in my eyes she needs to work on her timing a bit (no major bug though especially so shortly after the first preview).
Susanna Panzner as Doris was fantastic – the whole “Käffchen” scene had me laughing all the way through. BUT (yes, a big but!) that whole song about “Käffchen” was nothing but appalling. Seriously, get rid of it. It’s not funny, just embarrassing!
I liked the rest of the cast although I think the ensemble is a bit wasted in this show. Yes, they do appear frequently but they never really get the chance to stand out and shine. The dance scenes are ok but not amazing – no chance for anyone in the ensemble to show off his or her talent which is a shame.
I admit I wasn’t expecting a lot from this show simply because I almost never do when it comes to German musicals these days. So I am happy to report that in my eyes Kein Pardon is actually a fun and entertaining evening. It captures the humour of the movie so if you enjoyed that one you’ll probably enjoy the show as well. That is if you don’t have a strong dislike against revue like song arrangements and glittery costumes.
I wouldn’t go and buy the cast recording simply because I doubt I’d have an interest to just listen to the songs. They work fine in the show though.
I do thing the encore is way too forced though. Whoever thought of putting some kind of “rap” into “Das ganze Leben ist ein Quiz” needs to think again for sure!
Kein Pardon is no masterpiece – definitely not! But it’s a new musical and that alone is refreshing in this country. It’s about time we got something new beside the same old shows over and over again.
Kein Pardon is showing at the Capitol Theater in Düsseldorf. For more info an to book tickets go to http://www.kein-pardon.de/