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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