It’s been two years since the Tony Award-winning Cabaret toured, where Will Young and Louise Redknapp stepped into the leading roles, and now, the production has arrived at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre with a fresh new cast.
It’s 1931 in the city of Berlin and the Kit Kat Klub is alive with stylish numbers, led by the legendary cabaret performer, Sally Bowles. She’s well known in the area for her seductive personality and British charm, but what she doesn’t expect is to be swept off her feet when American novelist Clifford Bradshaw steps into her life.
This isn’t my first time seeing the beauty of Cabaret. As a teen, I sat in the stalls of the very same theatre, where I was left not only utterly mesmerised by the fantastic performance that Wayne Sleep gave as Emcee – the Master of Ceremonies, but left with a whole new outlook on the power that lays within musical theatre. Since then, this particular production is one that has stuck with me as solidly as that of Miss Saigon.
If there’s one thing that’s noteworthy about Cabaret, beyond its eye-catching set design and exceptional ability to balance the complexity of humour with slick choreography and crafted music, is its ability to grip its audience from beginning to end, through the use of powerful storytelling. The staging very much glitz and glamour from the get-go, but don’t be fooled by its Hollywood demeanour. Once the curtain is lifted to encase the storyline within the outbreak of World War Two, you’ll find your outlook on Cabaret is much darker than you probably prepared yourself for.
Underneath the turbulent love story of Sally and Mr Bradshaw, played by the utterly outstanding Kara Lily Hayworth and Charles Hagerty – who is reprising his role as Bradshaw – Cabaret is speckled with further challenges of the adorable Herr Schultz (James Paterson) and Frauline Schniede (Anita Harris), who break off their engagement due to Schniede’s friendship with a Nazi.
Far from an easy watch at times by any means, Cabaret manages to tackle a range of delicate issues with such care and delicacy, while show-stopping numbers bring it well and truly to life, and witty humour brings a lightened tone to an otherwise sensitive subject matter that has the audience so quiet that you wonder if you’re actually sat watching the show alone.
I cannot write this review without singing my absolute praises for the utterly sensational John Partridge. After previously seeing John in Chicago a few years back, I had high hopes for his performance as Emcee, and found myself pondering on how he would compare to my previous Cabaret experience where Wayne Sleep took on the role.
Suffice to say, that this role was built for Partridge. His vocals were utterly outstanding, and he managed to balance the humour, slightly eerie personality of Emcee with utter ease. He hit every note, every line was delivered with such accuracy and he made no trouble of going the extra mile to make the production as immersive for the audience as possible. In my honest opinion, I think it will be hard for another performer to top Partridge in his role of Emcee, he is utterly unbeatable.
Effortlessly glamorous, deliciously dark, seductive, sexy and everything in-between, Cabaret is the gift that just keeps on giving. An impeccable piece of theatre that must be seen, I have a feeling this production will continue to educate its audience for many years to come. And I for one, can’t wait to see it again.
*Disclaimer // I was invited to watch Cabaret by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. I did not pay for my ticket, but was asked to write a review in exchange. All views are my own.