BWW Reviews: CABARET, Savoy Theatre, October 10
“There was a Cabaret, and there was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany. It was the end of the world. And I was dancing with Sally Bowles, and we were both fast asleep.”
Pop Idol’s Will Young and ex-EastEnders star Michelle Ryan (or Zoe as most may know her)
take the Savoy Theatre stage alongside Sian Phillips, Matt Rawle, Linal Haft, harriet thorpe,
Nicholas Tizzard and a thorough ensemble.
Weimar Berlin of 1931 is turned into a dark and sexual haven of corruption. In the comforting shelter of the 'Kit-Kat Club', the morally ambiguous and unusual citizens are determined to keep up appearances of a life of parties and pleasure.
However, outside this musical bubble there holds a nightmarish chaos of the outbreak of Nazi Germany and war. From the creators of the ever-popular ‘Chicago’; Kander and Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ features glittering costumes, show-stopping Fosse choreography and some of the most iconic musical theatre songs including ‘Mein Herr’ and ‘Maybe This Time’. This 2012 West End revival succeeds in continuing the show's famous style and minimalistic set; simply with frames for doors, a basic bed, block letters and ladders. A frame of yellow lights decorates the entire proscenium arch, introducing the glitziness to create an illusion of a world hiding the war. The orchestra is set upstage, creating intimacy with the characters, even with Emcee satirically conducting at the beginning of the second act.
Rufus Norris directed the show 6 years ago with Anna Maxwell Martin as his Sally Bowles,
Leaving the ex-Eastender lass with a lot to live up to - not only from Maxwell Martin’s
vulnerable and dejected version of the lead, but from the one and only Liza Minnelli. Minnelli,
much like her mother’s ownership of Dorothy, practically owns the part of Sally Bowles.
Ryan’s voice didn’t quite live up to Minnelli’s, but what she lacked in her singing she more than made up for with her dancing; singing ‘Mein Herr’ whilst upside down and in the splits at one point. Sally is the world closing their eyes on the turmoil that is surfacing in Berlin, and that will eventually affect the majority of the world. Considering this production is Michelle Ryan’s
West End debut, she came out and gave it all she had, pleasing all the audience and bringing an amazing energy to the stage that brought a smile to everyone’s face.
Matt Rawle, whom I most recently saw in ‘West End Men’ at G-Live in Guildford, plays
Cliffard Bradshaw, an American novelist representing the new and fairly naïve American
activist, not wanting to sit by and watch the Government walk all over certain groups in the
society. Having only seen Rawle in his own actual cabaret show with two other leading men I
was excited to see him take up a main character. Courageously entering the stage he won
me over immediately; his voice was completely heart melting and he came across as a
strong opposition to Sally.
The ensemble consisted of strong dancers, each holding their own, making it difficult to
pick out any individually. They were all undeniably sexy and were so together they could
have been an army regiment at times as choreographer Javier De Frutos brought a fresh
touch to the classic Fosse style.
Last but certainly not least, we come to Will Young as Emcee. I was anxious as to what the Pop Idol winner would be like live in the West End. But within his first line I realised how wrong I was to worry.
His vigour and vivacity was perfect: from the off whenever he was on stage I couldn’t watch
anyone else. He was constantly animated and drove the musical forward. His voice was
faultless, enabling him to not only play Emcee but also sing a stunning rendition of ‘I Don’t
Care Much’ that gave me goosebumps. I hope to see much more of Will Young on the West
All in all, a fun and yet devastatingly emotional production, fronted by an unexpectingly
remarkable new West End man Will Young. The cast brought to life the story throughout the
entire two hours, leaving no audience member jaded.