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At secondary school I had singing lessons, and with my teacher I used to sing musical theatre songs on a weekly basis. Cabaret frequently made an appearance in our sessions through ‘Maybe This Time’ and the titular track and since then it’s been on my must-see list. When I heard the musical was making a stop at The Marlowe Theatre and a press night invite dropped into my inbox, I very quickly accepted as it’s something I’ve wanted to see on stage for a long time. In the lead up to the performance we watched the legendary movie starring Liza Minnelli so I’d have a rough idea about what to expect in the theatrical performance. The movie is dark as it covers life in Berlin during the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Third Reich, so I was intrigued to see how the creative team behind Cabaret the Musical would tackle such harrowing themes on stage. On Cabaret’s opening night I took my seat ready for a very different theatrical experience, taking a step back in time to 1930s Berlin.
It’s New Year’s Eve in 1930 and lots of Berliners are out celebrating at the famous Kit Kat Klub. Cliff Bradshaw, an aspiring American writer has just arrived in Berlin and at the border he meets Ernst Ludwig: a smuggler. Ernst recommends him a place to live: Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house and this is where the majority of the production takes place. After securing lodgings Cliff Bradshaw is invited out to the Kit Kat Klub where he meets the star Sally Bowles and it’s the start of an unlikely relationship.
The musical follows the lives of Cliff, Sally, Fraulein Schneider and her boarders at the end of Weimar Republic Berlin. The Kit Kat Klub’s Emcee narrates the whole piece through song, dance and performances with the Cabaret performers. Politics are changing in the city and the Nazi party are gaining momentum, making the residents of Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house and the Kit Kat Klub feel uneasy on the streets they once loved. Performances at the Kit Kat Klub continue and the residents go about their daily lives, but hatred starts to grow day by day. Cabaret is a difficult story to digest but an important one, seen through the eyes of individual people.
Friendship, love, acceptance and hatred are some of the themes covered in Cabaret. The Kit Kat Klub is a place of acceptance but the streets of Berlin are far from this towards the end of the production. Hatred overthrows acceptance and Berlin becomes a very dark place to live.
In Tuesday’s performance the role of Emcee was played by Oliver Roll: an understudy for John Partridge and regular ensemble member. He was tremendous singing Cabaret classics such as ‘Money’ and ‘Wilkommen’. The iconic role of Sally Bowles was played by Kara Lily Hayworth and she was absolutely brilliant, lighting up the stage with her dancing, vocals and acting. ‘Maybe This Time’ and ‘Cabaret’ were extremely powerfully numbers, with not a peep coming from the audience. Last but not least deserving of a mention is Anita Harris: the actress starring as Fraulein Schneider. A theatre legend, Anita was charming in the role and her on-stage partnership with James Paterson (Herr Schultz) was a joy to watch. They certainly are great together!
There are some musicals that I could just see again and again, but Cabaret doesn’t fall into this category. It was powerful and thought-provoking, so much so that I think the piece wouldn’t have such a strong impact seeing it a second time around. It’s something that all theatregoers should see at least once as it’s a classic musical still resonating with audiences today, as they try to understand the catastrophic changes that happened in Germany in the 1930s. If you’re a devoted Cabaret fan or a theatre fan looking to see something a little different to the jukebox musicals, you can find tickets to the Cabaret on The Marlowe Theatre’s website. Please bare in mind that this production isn’t child friendly and the recommended age for audience members is 13+.
A huge thank you to The Marlowe Theatre for the gifted tickets.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx