WORTH A LOOK? *****
WHEN?: Monday 15 November, opens 10 December 2021 booking to 14 May 2022 RUNTIME: 155 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
We’ve followed Buckley’s career from BBC1 casting show I’d Do Anything, through West End and films including Romeo and Juliet and predict this will be the role that will catapault her to superstardom.
- Read on for reasons including how good Redmayne and Douglas are and how we’ve never heard an audience reaction like it
We’ve never heard a more raucous standing ovation like it in many decades of theatregoing and Buckley’s sneery and angry performance of this show’s title track at its conclusion is the absolute pinnacle of an unforgettable revival.
We’re in the back row of the stalls but, thanks to the repurposing of this venue, we’re only 7 rows from the stage and within touching distance – we could but we don’t! – of Oscar-winning lead Eddie Redmayne.
Redmayne’s EmCee has a ginger wig with white make-up during the opening number Wilkommen as he emerges from below the in-the-round stage at the centre of The Kit Kat Club in the Playhouse.
The intimate staging means the cast brushes past the audience through this venue’s many aisles as they make their way to and from the stage.
Redmayne sings strongly and gives a very physical performance which shows how contorted he can become and even goes topless during comedy number 2 Ladies but it is Buckley who has finally found a challenging role she can excel in which is a true test of her fabulous singing voice but also of her sharp acting skills.
Cabaret is a 1966 musical by Kander and Ebb set in Berlin opening on New Year’s Eve 1929 as the Nazis are ascending to power. We join American writer Clifford Bradshaw (an engaging Omari Douglas, so good in Constellations and TV’s It’s A Sin this year) as he arrives in Berlin to write a novel and visits The Kit Kat Club where Buckley’s Sally Bowles is a singer.
Our congratulations to the venue which we enter through Stage Door via an atmospheric basement where we are given a token for a welcome drink. We make our way through 2 bars where performers interact with guests to give us a real sense of what it might have felt like to be in a German club in this period. Staff wish us: ‘Happy New Year!’ because we’re in The Kit Kat Club in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1929.
We return to this production in a few weeks where we will dine in the 1st 5 rows around the stage for a more immersive experience but the cheaper seat we enjoyed this evening was well worth its cover price.
The show’s heart is maximised by the growing relationship between 2 of the older characters, Herr Schultz played beautifully by Elliot Levey and Liza Sadovy’s touching portrayal of landlady Fraulein Schneider.
The appearance of a swastika on the arm of 1 of the guests into her home sends real shivers up the spine.
Redmayne gives a superlative performance as the nightclub host but we think it is this re-engineering of the story to put Bowles at its heart that will linger longest in the audience’s memory.
We’ve heard Maybe This Time many times but it is only really in this Rebecca Frecknall-directed (Summer And Smoke, Almeida and West End) version that we felt we fully understood its meaning and context.
Judi Dench played the Bowles role in its 1968 1st West End production, Liza Minnelli was iconic in winning the Oscar for the 1972 film but we felt Buckley brought something original and sprinkled it with stardust.
Anything Goes at the Barbican this year was 1 of the best theatrical productions we’ve ever seen with a phenomenal leading actress and this Cabaret is certainly up there with it.
What good is sitting alone in your room when there’s a Cabaret this magical in the West End to lose yourself completely and utterly in.
- Pictures via Facebook courtesy Marc Brenner and Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Tickets
- Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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