Thursday, February 01, 2007

Life is a Cabaret..

Well it was for me on Tuesday night when Lloyd accompanied me to see Cabaret at The Lyric Theatre ably directed by our Swan Youth Theatre chum, Rufus Norris.

Cabaret happens to be my all-time favourite musical - both the stage and film versions although I think the stage version is more powerful than the film. And this production is no exception - probably the darkest version I've ever seen and I've seen a few (not least the Swan Theatre production in Worcester which I saw at least 20 times as directed by John Doyle!).

The staging is wonderful - minimalist certainly, but spot on for design, functionality and keeping with the spirit of the piece. You do get a feel for what Berlin nightlife would have been like at the time both onstage, in the audience and backstage. The choreography and costumes (and lack of at times) bear this out - risque, exciting, dark, encapsulating 1930s Berlin perfectly. And of course the performances themselves were brilliant - so much passion and energy put into the roles. The Emcee, played by Christopher Akrill, was everything the Emcee should be - menacing, controlling, fascinating, lithe, slippery, a barometer of the times. Anna Maxwell Martin made the role of Sally Bowles her own - minx and victim on a rollercoaster ride of drink, drugs, sex and cabaret. Sheila Hancock was brilliant as Fraulein Schneider and Geoffrey Hutchings was a wonderful partner to her as Herr Schultz. I loved every minute of the emotional journey it took me on from frivolity and fun to war and death.

Afterwards, Lloyd and I caught up with Rufus and he took us backstage and we got to stand on the stage and see how it was all put together. It took me right back to my youth theatre days - the smell of it all, the atmosphere - it was all there. I really miss that.

As a sideline, the production team also runs a monthly Kit Kat Klub night at Too2Much where you can join the cast members and other West End celebrity guests after the show. The house band will support a changing roster of top performers singing songs from teh shows and also new materials and classics from the likes of Marlene Dietrich, The Rat Pack and Ella Fitzgerald. With a cosy atmosphere, you're own MC and a DJ, it sounds like a lot of fun. The next ones are tonight, 2nd March and 6 April.

So Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome - im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret. Go see it!