Rufus Norris's production of Kander and Ebb's spectacular take on Christopher Isherwood's stories of 1930s Berlin first opened at the Lyric in 2006. This revival's casting has provoked anticipation: Michelle Ryan, once of 'EastEnders', is Sally Bowles, love interest of Isherwood's proxy, Cliff Bradshaw and star of star of seedy cabaret joint the Kit Kat Club; Will Young, first winner of 'Pop Idol', plays the club's Emcee. One falls flat; the other excels.
It's a strong production, staging tight, slick numbers in a hard, flexible set whose design is laced with hints of German Expressionism. The band, mounted high at the rear of the set, does justice to the iconic numbers ('Wilkommen', 'Mein Herr', 'Maybe This Time' et al) and the satirical routines have convincingly sharp edges.
Young proves a compelling ringleader, his voice expressive, his presence snaring the necessary combination of charm and grotesquerie – now cod-Von Trapp, now Mr Creosote.
The show's conspicuous weakness lies in what should be its central relationship, between naïve American newcomer Cliff and iconic demimondeuse Sally. Matt Rawle's Cliff feels a little jaded from the off and Ryan's loud, smiley, glib turn fails to capture Sally's combination of charisma, cunning and sadness. This leaves a significant gap, admirably filled by Siân Phillips and Linal Haft as landlady Fräulein Schneider and her Jewish suitor Herr Schultz.
Their rich performances bring this relationship rightly to the fore, especially when the rise of the Nazis becomes dramatically crucial in the story's second half. As the show builds to its sucker-punch climax, Cliff and Sally come to seem like the silly children Cliff suspects them to be, with Schneider, Schultz and the Kit Kat cast the tragic victims of history.
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Average User Rating
3.7 / 5
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I found myself hating a musical I have always loved while I watched this production. Gone is any real feeling of seedy, debauched decadence and doom; instead is a high speed series of dance routines strung together by some fairly uninspired scenes. The acting and directing mostly falling short. Michelle Ryan was awful. She has to be one of the most wooden, one dimensional actresses I have ever seen. This did not work well while she attempted to play a character who must slowly fall apart during the course of the performance. No aspect of the manic, desperate fantasist that was Sally Bowles was revealed at all. Will Young was an unremarkable Emcee and I felt he was there to please the crowds and sell tickets rather than because he had the skill to tackle such a sinister, nasty role.
I don't know what Theo anto was on when he wrote his appalling review, but myself and partner thoroughly enjoyed this production AND the film version, which incidently wasn't an "original" as the film was based on an earlier stage musical and probably two books previous to that. The most compelling differences in this production and the fim version is that Will Young does not try to be another Joel Grey and the part benefits from it. The other difference is that the story line adheres probably more to the "original" two books on which it was based thatn the film ever did and the juxtaposition of the tragedy and the camp humour are much more shocking in this production than the rather superficial film. Go and see this and make your own mind up. To us Will Young is the star of show and the poignancy of the second half will not be lost who choose to stay to see it!!
Can't say that Will Young was a big box office draw for me, however I must say that he was surprising good. Michelle Ryan also gave a very good performance as Sally Bowles. I think that it must be very difficult to star in a musical where people still hanker back to the Liza Minelli/Joel Grey version, but both Young and Ryan were very good in their own right and deserve much applause.
This production Is a shocking and horrific bastardisation of the origional musical, will young gives a just adequate performance of the master of ceremonies inevitably fallin short of Joel Grey and the stage direction is relatively entertaining but from there every aspect is abysmal the man attempting to play Brian Norris is thourogly irritating and two diminutional the pathetic shot in the dark acting of sally Bowles is horrific and gives no hint to the venrability or needs of the character and on top of that the singing was atrocious every single note Was blasted out flat like some sort of sub par school musical. The gimmicky songs awkwardly jammed in alonnsidenthenorigiomals serve no purpose other than being intensely annoying and breaking away from the story. This production has absolutely no sense of the history behind this musical and is utterly utterly terrible. I urge no one to see this and If you have theisfortune to do so before reading this review to watch the original at least ten times to purge this abomination from your memory. Although you could disregard this entire review as I left in the second half
Loved Cabaret last night cant wait to see the reviews but its a 4.5 from me. I think Will Young was superb - born to pay that part and Sian Phillips... just a stunning performance
Saw this at a preview Bromley - it got a standing ovation. Sian Phillips was a masterclass, Will Young a revelation and Michelle Ryan dazzles with talent (a clever piece of casting from the producer - she is a perfect Sally) There was not one poor performance which is rare treat in an ensemble. A great night out - that it's now at the Savoy only adds to the glamour of the occasion! .