Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by John Masterhoff
3*** A cabaret to enjoy
Trinity Laban Theatre, Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 3DZ to 8 December 2018.
Runs 2hr 20 mins One interval.
Review: William Russell 7 December
Raunchy nights at the Kit Kat Klub
This celebrated Kander and Ebb musical has its flaws as well as its moments of musical genius – the subplot involving a landlady and her Jewish suitor doesn’t work and the hero, a would be American writer in Berlin, is dreary. The stage version also suffers from the fact that the film, while it eliminated some of the dramatic problems, turned the role of Sally Bowles, the English girl on the loose in pre-war Berlin, from a pretty awful chanteuse in the Kit Kat Klub into a star because of Lisa Minelli’s performance. She was memorable, but not quite what Sally was meant to be in the Christopher Isherwood book Goodbye to Berlin on which the show is based. But let’s forget all that and concentrate on what director Karen Rabinowitz and her student cast achieved.
The ensemble work is very efficient and the chorus of Kit Kat dancers genuinely raunchy and vulgar, as they should be. As the Emcee Barney Fritz, who was playing the role on the night I saw it, had great style and soared through his cynical songs to the manner born; Jenny Coates as Sally sparkled bravely and conveyed just how silly she really is, turning a blind eye to the world outside the one in which she is having the time of her life; and Harry Newton made as much as anyone could of Cliff, the dreary would be semi-gay writer who falls for her.
As Fraulein Schneider, his middle-aged spinster landlady, Hannah Macpherson was touching – she is romanced by a Jewish greengrocer – and sang well. It was not her fault she looked far too young and handsome, but she could have given less volume to her songs. If you have a good voice the temptation is to show it off, but Schneider’s numbers need a more tentative approach to work. She is a lady who knows her place in the world, but wishes she was somewhere else. As Herr Schultz, the greengrocer, Calum Rickman survived being cast against type remarkable well.
The production worked very well as a whole, although just why the Germans had to speak in accents was questionable and the Tomorrow Belongs to Me song was presented straight away as a Nazi hymn, which spoils the effect of the reprise. First time round it should be just a sentimental ballad albeit sung by the Emcee and his boys – they don’t mean it, but they don’t mean what it coveys when it comes to the reprise either.
The cynical numbers like If You Could See Her, Wilkommen, and Two Ladies worked perfectly, and Jenny Coates rose to the challenge of Cabaret at the end with style. It proved to be a Cabaret well worth coming to.
Emcee: Barney Fritz.
Cliff: Harry Newton.
Fraulein Schneider: Hannah Macpherson.
Herr Schultz: Calum Rickman.
Fraulein Kost: Nichol Renton-Charmin.
Sally Bowles: Jenny Coates.
Ernst Ludwig: Bobby Harding.
Telephone Girl: Amy Louise Lonergan.
Customs Officer: Jake Lomas.
Two Ladies: Rebecca d’Lacey & Kate Charmin.
Max: Jake Lomas.
Maitre D: Michael McGeough
Kissing Couple: Eleanor Turner & Calum Rickman.
Sailors: Thomas Wareham, George Fairclough & Brendan Mageean.
Kit Kat Girls: Emily Harper, Rebecca d’Lacey, Amy Louise Lonergan, Florence Russell, Eleanor Turner & Alessia Watson.
Kit Kay Boys: Thomas Wareham, George Fairclough, Brendan Mageean, Michael McGeough.
Bobby: George Fairclough.
Assistant Customs Office: Brendan Mageean.
Taxi Man: Barney Fritz.
Gorilla: Michael McGeough.
Nazi Guard: Thomas Wareham & Brendan Mageean.
Director: Karen Rabinowitz.
Musical Director: Mark Smith.
Choreographer: Graham Newell.
Set & Costume Designer: Louise Carver.
Lighting Designer: Jake Wiltshire.