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CABARET (Birmingham Rep)

10-09-2009

Cabaret

This decadent drama set in pre-war Nazi Germany returns to the Rep until September 19. Terry Wills goes to the Cabaret, old chum.

Last year the Birmingham Rep proudly presented ‘Cabaret’,the musical penned via the legendary talents of John Kender and Fred Ebb. The subsequent response from critics being virtually unanimous.

Summed up by one thus: ‘A sassy, sizzling, sensation of a show!’

With ‘Full House’ notices a regular feature it became clear that a return visit would allow those disappointed at not being able to see the show another opportunity.

At the same time giving a second chance for ‘regular’ devotees of musical theatre to enjoy another glimpse of a musical that in an instant can switch from light humorous comedy to a feeling you’re aware of a dark brooding growing sense of unease as to it’s implications.

A brief introduction for those unaware of the storyline.

The setting is Berlin in the early 1930’s as the emerging power of Nazi dictatorship was gaining strength. ‘The ‘Kit Kat Klub’, home of decadence at it’s worst ('Cabaret' is very much an adults only show) stars Sally Bowles a young gifted talented singer.

She meets Henry an aspiring, but very poor American writer. A mutual attraction develops but as events begin to take a far more sinister turn (physical beating for anyone, including Henry, for not being of pure Aryan descent) he implores Sally “Pack your bags, come with me to America. Start a new life”

Alongside, a tender growing loving relationship has grown between elderly Fraulein Schneider (Jenny Logan) and mild mannered Herr Schultz (Matt Zimmerman). He asks her to marry him but as with Sally and Henry they face a sinister irresolvable complication. He is, unforgivably, of Jewish descent.

Whenever on stage together discussing the implications should they decide to marry, the chemistry is apparent. Two tender performances suitably acknowledged as the cast took their final bows.

From the opening scene as Emcee (Wayne Sleep) invites potential customers into the den of the ‘Kit Kat Klub’ (a sexually orientated, bisexual venue where ‘anything goes’ for a price) to the final scene at a doom laden Berlin railway station, ‘Cabaret’ succeeds in reflecting the worrying thoughts of individual characters who are uncertain and fearful as to what kind of future, if any, lies ahead (apart from Henry who hasn’t the slightest doubt) should they defy the threats from an arrogant group of boastful Nazi devotees.

The cast overall have to be congratulated. What new can be said of Wayne Sleep? Whether dancing in trademark fashion or displaying his comedy expertise he leaves an audience in awe at his comic timing. Particularly in the ‘Money Song’ (‘Money Makes the world Around’)

Henry (Clifford Bradshaw) gives full rein to his distaste of changes he knows can only lead to disaster should Sally decide to stay in Germany while she, despite recognising the problems, is very reluctant to make a such a drastic move.

Lichfield born Siobhan Dillon proudly plays Sally – and How she’s risen to the challenge. Finishing third in the BBC’s ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’, she now expresses passion and feeling when singing ‘Maybe this Time’ while in the show stopping title number ‘Cabaret’ the applause was loud, long and well deserved. (Most definitely a leading lady of the future she can surely see a very bright future on the road that has already seen her appearing in the West End production of ‘Grease’)

As for the dancing a warning - ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ it isn’t! The choreography reflects the decadency of a seedy 1930’s Berlin nightclub which, should it ever be translated into in an updated movie version of ‘Cabaret’, would assuredly warrant an Adults only Certificate.

Congratulations to the Birmingham Rep for having the foresight to bring this outstanding show back to the city.

Those who missed it last year now have a second opportunity but should they forgo this second chance, without a legitimate excuse, then they can blame no one but themselves!

Booking details at http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/

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