THEATRE REVIEW: Cabaret starring Callum Scott Howells at The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHEN?: Saturday 8 October (matinee), booking to 16 December 2023

We’re here for our 4th visit to The Kit Kat Club in less than a year because a major cast change gives us our 3rd EmCee – Callum Scott Howells from TV’s It’s A Sin – and 3rd Sally Bowles.

  • Read on for reasons including why the West End’s most magical show continues to weave that spell despite its 3rd major cast change

Redmayne won the Best Actor Olivier for his role in this production and we described him as giving ‘a very physical performance’ while we felt his successor Fra Fee ‘offer(ed) a warmer singing voice mixed with a desire to make sure everyone in the audience feels thoroughly welcome at least at the show’s beginning’.

Scott Howells made us laugh more than his predecessors, bares more flesh including his bottom during a racier than we remember Two Ladies and has a warm Welsh tone to his singing voice despite his German accent.

Like Redmayne, he goes topless during Two Ladies, is perhaps a little more enthusiastically groin-thrusting than either of his predecessors and any worries about him being out of his depth here immediately dissipate. We’re already looking forward to seeing him in his next West End role at the National early next year which has recently been announced.

It’s A Sin star Omari Douglas appeared in the original cast and it’s great to see that baton carried forward in this 3rd main iteration of the cast.

1 of the original highlights of the show for us was Jessie Buckley’s snarling interpretation of the titular song and we weren’t quite so fond of Madeline Brewer’s Sally who doesn’t quite go for it in the same way.

We said originally: ‘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.’

Sid Sagar as Clifford Bradshaw was well cast and we thought he held his own against both Douglas and Omar Baroud of whom we said: ‘We felt Baroud’s Cliff was perhaps the only new cast member to have superceded their predecessor. We saw him 5 years ago at a special Westminster Abbey performance with Mark Rylance and here he is particularly believable in fooling himself that he would be happy with Sally in straight-acting domestic bliss despite his homosexuality.’

1 of the most beautiful things about this production is the emphasis on the secondary older romance between the Jewish Herr Schultz (here played by the understated Richard Katz) and the troubled Fraulein Schneider once again beautifully drawn by Vivienne Parry.

As the cost of living becomes ever tighter, the decadence on display in the venue with its emphasis on champagne and leaving your troubles outside becomes ever more acute.

We said in our last review: ‘If you haven’t yet manage to catch this classic reinvention, don’t be put off by this major cast change because it’s a production that’s still as good, if a little different, as it ever was’ and that advice still stands.

As does our final observation – 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.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy ATG Tickets
  • Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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