Arts & Theatre, Music & Dance, Norwich

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

Liam has made friends with the Theatre Royal which means he’ll be dragging me along to every passing production doing the provincial rounds. As a taste of things to come, we popped along to catch the latest re-working of a treasured old favourite. Deliciously dark and tragically ironic, Cabaret is poignantly set within the doomed metrosexual decadence of Weimar Berlin before the monstrous social cleansing of Nazi Germany. These days, it takes big money to put on big shows and the best way to get bums on seats is to roll out the big names. This time round, the Kit Kat Club starred Pop Idol winner and grannies’ favourite, Will Young, as the Emcee and ex-Eastender, ex-Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan as Sally Bowles. Putting pop names in the frame isn’t always a recipe for success. Young Will was a tasty revelation. He stepped along with camp Teutonic aplomb and wowed the audience with voice and perfectly paced pathos. Michelle Ryan, on the other hand, was barely serviceable as Sally. Her voice simply isn’t strong or distinct enough to carry off the big numbers and her Julie Andrew’s impersonation had to be propped up by a more talented chorus line. In between the big budget numbers, the dislocated scenes with the run-of-the-mill supporting cast were pedestrian and the deliberate pregnant pauses gave the impression that lines had been fluffed or forgotten. Of course, I’m a small gun critic so what do I know? But I suspect that when the show hits the West End, the big guns may well turn on at least one of the the big names.

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15 thoughts on “Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

  1. I do like Will Young and think he excels in musical theatre, I loved him in Mrs Henderson Presents, one of my favourite films ever, can I borrow Liam? i think I would enjoy doing the theatre rounds with him.

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  2. Did you read that Claire Berlinsky article comparing Istanbul to Weimar Berlin? It was mostly spot on, making Cabaret and Istanbul all the more thrilling. Except that was last year, and I must admit that “something-huge-is-gonna-happen-soon” feeling has worn off somewhat. Or worn thin. I don’t know if that means we’re no longer in interesting times, or if I’ve just gotten used to the feeling of free fall.

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    1. I haven’t read it but I can see some similarity with the political situation – though not as extreme as those nasty Nazis! The slowing Turkish economy may well see the AKP in trouble.

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  3. I don’t even remember who played Sally the last time I saw Cabaret on Broadway. Alan Cumming was the whole show. And then there was the time my high school ( ages 15 – 18) did this show. Teenage girls in trashy lingerie on stage – such a wholesome environment. But I was in the orchestra pit in those days and so missed out on shocking the public.

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  4. How many years ago was it? I went to the Dress Rehearsal of the original London version with Judy Dench as Sally and Barry Dennen as MC. Joel Gray in the movie was unbeatable, but Liza with a Z was TOO GOOD to be singing in a Berlin nightclub. Judi was exactly right – just about able to carry a tune but Very Game! Does this touring version have the Gay element which made it into the movie with Michael York but was left out of the stage version (and the original play I AM A CAMERA)?

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    1. Now Judi as Sally – that would be a treat. How lucky were you? The current production is a delicious cesspit of sexual depravity – everyone’s doing it to everyone else but it’s all done in the best possible taste!

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