Review: Cabaret

AFTER HOURS: The classic musical Cabaret is currently at Leeds Grand Theatre with Louise Redknapp as Sally Bowles.

Leeds Grand TheatreCabaret’s roots go back to 1939 when Christopher Isherwood published his semi-autobiographical novel, Goodbye to Berlin, about his life in pre-Nazi Germany, living with nightclub singer Sally Bowles.

The 50’s saw the story become the stage play I am a Camera, but it took the 1972 film, starring Liza Minelli, to make Cabaret one of the most popular musicals of its era.

Set in the shadow of the encroaching Nazi regime, it tells the tale of Sally Bowles and her ill-fated romance with Cliff Bradshaw, a bi-sexual American author. Their relationship steers toward marriage and a move to the USA but ultimately leads to sadness, abortion and separation.

Rufus Norris’s production borders on brilliance. He successfully captures the debauchery and hedonistic atmosphere of 30’s Berlin from its sensual perversions and decadence to the dark and brutal undertones of what is to come.

Imaginatively designed and lit, 
the pace and the sheer physical prowess of the cast in climbing moving ladders and staircases, make this a seamless and dynamic production.

Will Young, (Emcee) has created a creepy, sinister, stylized character that is menacing, veers towards the dark yet radiates a strange charisma to the audience.

Susan Penhaligon (Fraulein Schneider) and Linal Haft (Herr Schultz) are outstanding and so beautifully believable in handling the humour and pathos in the roles.

As Sally Bowles, Louise Redknapp has put her own stamp on the role which works well at times. However she has just not enough power in the emotional vocals to make them convincing.

To 28 October.

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