Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Set in Berlin in 1931 during the chilling rise of the Nazi’s, Cabaret introduces us to the unconventional love story of American writer Cliff Bradshaw and English performance artist Sally Bowles, who entertains nightly at the city’s decadent and debauched Kit Kat Klub.
An additional and deeply moving sub-plot detailing the ill-fated romance between elderly Jewish fruit seller Herr Schultz and German boarding house owner Fräulein Schneider ensures that Cabaret is as intricate as it is entertaining, with its own Master of Ceremonies Emcee, ominously overseeing the action.
Amidst the razzle dazzle of the big numbers which are delivered spectacularly by an impressive ensemble the story is firmly anchored in the drama of the period as a much darker landscape emerges and the reality of the changing political climate is realised in everyday life.
Kara Lily Hayworth excels as good time girl Sally Bowles, with soaring vocals delicately delivered she finds the genuine vulnerability of this troubled soul. Charles Hagerty makes for a strong Cliff Bradshaw, wide-eyed in wonder initially he leaps headfirst into the decadence of the city until the stark reality of what is happening to Belin is realised.
James Paterson and Anita Harris are a real joy as Herr Schultz and Fräulein Schneider making the inevitable outcome of their doomed love story all the more heart-breaking to watch.
John Partridge makes for a commanding and charismatic Emcee, strutting and strong initially his journey from start to finish is the most humbling of all as we see the reality of this crushing regime played out. His transition from fearlessly flamboyant to painfully oppressed a bleak reminder of the grim history of the period. Director Rufus Norris gives us a stark and honest climax to the show which Partridge and the ensemble deliver with an unspoken sensitivity.
Designer Katrina Lindsay has ensured this complex piece engages from the off, the vibrancy of the Kit Kat Klub lures you in with it’s flashing lights and twirling staircases which in turn gives the gut-wrenching final scenes the impact they deserve.
The whole show is beautifully lit by Tim Olivier giving it a somewhat cinematic feel while Dan Samson’s sound design is superb. Javier De Frutos gives the ensemble cast some incredibly complex choreography which they deliver with ease bringing the Kit Kat Klub to vivid life.
Just as Kara Lily Hayworth sings during titular number “What good is sitting, alone in your room? Come hear the music play!” we can’t help but agree, with impressive staging, strong performances and superb choreography this is a Cabaret which will long stay with you.
Cabaret is on at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 29th February tickets are available here.