Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Cabaret, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Cabaret by Kander & Ebb
Director: Rufus Norris
Reviewer: Patricia Webster

A very warm welcome at the Sheffield Lyceum theatre only got hotter when the curtain rose and the musical got under way! This is defiantly not a production for you maiden aunt, with lots of flesh on show and nothing left to the imagination.

For those that don’t know the story of Sally Bowles and cabaret, it starts off on New Years Eve 1930 in Berlin Clifford Bradshaw is on the train station waiting to go to Berlin and meets Ernst Ludwig unknown to him but a nazi colluder and gets Clifford to bring his case of contraband into Berlin. They get talking and Ernst gets him a room at Frauline Schneider’s rooming house and an invite to the New Years Eve party at the Kit Kat club where anything goes. It’s all very hedonistic since the horrid days of World War 1. Clifford meets the beautiful Sally and she is thrown out by the emcee, (Wayne Sleep, very good by the way even though his German accent doesn’t remain throughout!) for being a bit too amorous with Clifford, not a paying guest if you know what I mean

Sally ends up going to share Cliff’s room and in the meanwhile Frauline Schneider and Herr Schultz fall in love and plan to marry. Ernst finds out and tells Frauline Schneider she will make things difficult for herself if she marries a Jew, Clifford has been listening to the politics on the street having gone to Paris again for Ernst for another case of baubles and fancy silk stockings. He no longer wants to go to Paris for him and having heard the threat to Frauline Schneider he decides enough is enough and wants out.

The nightclubs seemed the only escape for the people of Berlin and Sally Bowles was the main attraction at the Kit Kat club. People had fallen off coming to the club and the Emcee persuaded her to come back During all this Sally finds out she is with child and Clifford wants her to move to Mud village in Pennsylvania to settle down and raise a family, but Sally being Sally, the life and soul of the party she has other ideas

Samantha Barks has been brilliantly cast as Sally Bowles, her voice carrying over the sometimes slightly too loud orchestra with ease of a professional that had been performing for years, it’s a shame that Matt Zimmermans and Jenny Logans love duet couldn’t do the same.

The cast in general were superb, and the songs sung very well, Cabaret was a great performance of a dark time in Berlin and I would go and see it again if only for Samantha’s voice and the nice cheeky bum of the sailor escaping from Frauline Kost. With nudity, laughter poignancy and violence the audience were on the edge of their seats at times. The silence descended like a feather on the breeze. WONDERBAR! WONDERBAR! WONDERBAR!

Cabaret is on at the Lyceum Theatre until Sat 24th Jan 2009

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