It has been a while since I’ve seen a production of Cabaret and I admit I have never been a particular fan of this show. I enjoy it with a good cast, I like some of the songs but I don’t find the story particularly gripping in itself. Plus a whole song about a pineapple always seemed a bit too much for me.
However, the prospect of seeing Matt Rawle on stage is usually enough to make me attend a show. For those of you who don’t know this musical: It’s set in Berlin just before World War 2 and gives an insight into the rather decadent German Cabaret scene at that time and its downturn once the NSDAP comes into power. Beside this we learn of the everyday problems of the people living in Nazi Germany and the vast contrast between normal life during the day and the “dream world” of Cabaret Clubs like the Kit Kat Club at night.
This production went on a short UK tour prior to its West End run. Therefore the set is quite simply and clearly designed for a touring production. But that doesn’t take anything away from the show itself. Cabaret has a strong theme and a good storyline and doesn’t need huge sets to work.
Will Young steps into the shoes of the Emcee, a part that is hilariously over the top on the outside and an extreme contrast to the serious undertone of the show. I admit I didn’t expect Will Young to be outstanding and I wasn’t completely convinced by his portrayal throughout act one. However, in act two he managed to amaze me with the range of emotion his Emcee displayed. Plus he has a fantastic voice which suits the songs perfectly.
Matt Rawle, my main reason for watching the show, makes a wonderful Cliff Bradshaw. He has got the most amazing stage presence and engages the audience completely whenever he is on stage. Actually I’m sure he would make a perfect Emcee as well!
Michelle Ryan plays Sally Bowles, the female lead of the show. Sadly she is the weak link in this production. Personally I found her acting rather bland and I wasn’t blown away by her voice (which is nice but nothing special in my eyes and simply not strong enough for some of the songs in the show). There is no really connection between her and Matt on stage. To me it looked as if she was just acting beside him and not with him.
A special mention goes to the delightful Harriet Thorpe who gives a stellar performance as Fräulein Kost. I liked Sian Phillips as Fräulein Schneider although I wasn’t convinced by her singing which was more melodic talking than actual singing. The rest of the cast do a great job. I loved seeing John Brannoch on stage again.
The German language in the show is quite good I have to say. Obviously you can tell that the people on stage are non-native speakers but considering how ridiculously hard German is their pronounciation is fantastic.
One thing that really bugged me was the sound, in particular Michelle Ryan’s mic. I have no idea if it was done intentionally but whenever she was singing her mic seemed to be turned up to full volume. As a result you could hear every little breath she took – and she was breathing a lot! Personally I found that rather distracting.
All in all this is a good show and definitely worth seeing especially if you want to watch Will Young being absolutely awesome in a difficult part. Be prepared for nakedness and sexual references on stage though.
Cabaret is playing at the Savoy Theatre until 19th January 2013. To book tickets go to http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/cabaret-tickets