Tour Production photo of John Partridge
Cabaret has been one of the shows that we have both wanted to see on stage for such a long time but we always seemed to be busy when it was touring near us. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to catch this multi-award winning production by Bill Kenwright at the wonderful Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. Directed by National Theatre Director Rufus Norris, the production has enjoyed two smash hit West End runs at The Lyric and The Savoy theatres.
Cabaret is a well-loved musical classic featuring iconic choreography and unforgettable songs such as Money Makes the World Go Round, Maybe This Time (my favourite!), Cabaret and more. Cabaret premiered on Broadway in 1966 with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff. A movie version with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey was produced in 1972, which became an instant musical classic. Cabaret went on to win numerous awards both on stage and on the big screen including 8 Oscar’s, 7 BAFTA’s and 13 Tony’s.
Cabaret is based on a play by John Van Druten I Am a Camera (1951) which was adapted from the short novel by Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The story is set against the backdrop of 1931 Berlin, where the Nazis are gaining momentum and power. The audience are immersed into the nightlife of the Kit Kat Klub, where we meet 19-year-old English Cabaret performer Sally Bowles and the Master of Ceremonies. The story delves into the relationship between Sally and American writer Cliff Bradshaw and the world of the risqué Kit Kat Klub.
Director Rufus Norris has delivered a spectacular production from start to finish. From the bright, bold designs by Katrina Lindsay, the Kabaret sign shining above the stage to the industrial Berlin backdrop of the Kit Kat Klub, to the costumes which oozed the debauchery and sex of the seedy Berlin nightlife, the audience are transported right into the heart of 1930s Berlin.
The entire cast of this production made everything seem effortless. There were oustanding performances from the talented dancer ensemble who delivered the intricate mesmerising choreography by Javier De Frutos with style and attitude.
It feels like it was part of John Partridge’s DNA to play the Master of Ceremonies, Emcee. Partridge packed vulnerability, confidence, charisma and humour into this iconic role and his performance was one I won’t forget in a hurry. I previously caught Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role of Cilla in Cilla The Musical and was blown away by her talent. Hayworth didn’t disappoint as the infamous Sally Bowles as she delivered Maybe this Time and Cabaret with emotion and tenacity.
American playwright Cliff Bradshaw was played by the charming, talented Charles Hagerty who had wonderful chemistry with Hayworth. I adored the performance by Anita Harris as Fräulein Schneider. The chemistry between Harris and James Patterson (Herr Schultz) was endearing, honest and heartbreaking.
This was my first time catching Cabaret on stage and I feel privileged that I got to watch this production. It takes you on a journey of emotions, from the bold, hilarious performances at the Klub to the harrowing ending which was artistic and powerful. For me, I love theatre that makes me feel something and this production did exactly that. Cabaret still resonates today, as political fears and prejudice are still terrifying society and this was captured with such authenticity by Norris and the entire production team. This unmissable production is on a UK tour so make sure to catch Cabaret at Wolverhampton or at a theatre near you, you won’t regret it.
We say: “Berlin comes to Wolverhampton in this powerful and unmissable production of Cabaret! ”