Cabaret is a vibrant and moving musical which transports us to Berlin on the cusp of World War 2; however, many of the performances in this cast fail to invoke any real emotion. The production itself is a very high standard, and wonderfully directed by Rufus Norris of the National Theatre, but unfortunately there is a clear disconnection and detachment between the lead cast members.
Despite this, Will Young shines through in his portrayal of The Master of Ceremonies, his attention to detail does not go amiss and he perfectly embodies the nature of an ultimate showman – a dazzling, weird and wonderful performance (in the best possible way)! The ensemble is also a delight to watch, perfectly choreographed by Olivier Award winner Javier de Frutos. Every ‘Kit Kat Club’ performance is mesmerising and the energy levels are exhilarating, skillfully captivating the vibe of 1930’s Berlin. Louise Redknapp and Matt Rawle, despite singing beautifully, are missing a depth of connection to their characters Sally Bowels and Cliff. Pleasant performances are executed well from a technical point of view, but there is a lack of energy at points and there is a struggle to maintain the German accent from other leading cast members.
This show breeds the question – does star casting work? We have two interesting examples here: On one hand, Will Young provides a stellar performance; his characterisation morphs him into a completely different person, bold and unwavering as he commands the attention of the audience every moment he’s on stage. On the other, Louise Redknapp gives a charming performance, yet instead of feeling like I’m watching Sally Bowels, I am oddly aware that I am just watching Redknapp sing and strut around the stage, which may very well be the intention of the company. This lively musical is a real crowd-pleaser, and regardless of certain flaws, this show certainly transports the audience to the hedonistic night scene of 1930’s Berlin! - Anna Jobarteh