ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Cabaret starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley (January 2023)

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

Our sister sees a lot of West End musicals and so we take her to see this production of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club and she later writes on Facebook: ‘I think it was possibly the best show I have ever seen.’

  • Read on for reasons including how this production is ripe for a successful Broadway transfer

We’re at a performance of Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo’s A Night At The Musicals at Soho Theatre and the cost of tickets at the Playhouse Theatre is being gently ribbed and it’s a criticism we hear all over town but especially in London’s drag bars.

There are cheaper tickets, of course, the same price as the cheapest for Madonna’s upcoming 40-year anniversary shows at The 02 in October for example. But the truth is there’s a reason why this show has run for 15 months, is booking until 16 December 2023 as we type, and can continue to justify the prices it does.

We’ve now seen it 5 times and it undergoes a major cast change on 13 February as it welcomes new leads John McCrea (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Sex Education BAFTA winner Aimee Lou Wood (Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre).

The 1st time, of course, was at its 1st preview in November 2021 and the configuration of the show’s seating meant that, as we rose to our feet to join the standing ovation, its standout star – Jessie Buckley – was waiting at our side nervously before going fully onstage to take her applause.

This soundtrack features the original London cast, led by Oscar winner and driver of the show, Eddie Redmayne, and the only reason we can think that this is available commercially now is because Redmayne and Buckley must be planning to bring it to Broadway this fall.

Its intimacy and cost mean Broadway should be its natural home and we think director Rebecca Frecknall’s (A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida) production, particularly with its prologue not featured on the 2021 cast recording here, will bring the Money rolling in at whatever venue is lucky enough to be chosen to host it.

Covid famously enabled the Playhouse to be reconfigured to meet the requirements of this show with a tiny circular revolving stage which also has to incorporate its cast emerging through the floor and for a number of other elements to also rise from its centre.

If you’ve seen the show, what you get here is a listen to how brilliantly Redmayne’s EmCee warms up the crowd during lenthy opener Wilkommen.

We were Sally bowl-ed over by the ferocity with which Buckley attacked the titular track at the show’s close and return visits to the show with Fra Fee and Callum Scott Howells as the EmCee revealed visual touches including how the 1st red we see is the Nazi flag that so dominates the close of Act 1.

The ensemble transforming the costume from outrageous and racy garb to beige suits as the regimentation of the incoming Nazi regime is revealed is also a feast for the eyes and mind.

For us though repeat viewings has also enabled us to enjoy the show through the eyes of the older, romantic couple, played in the original by double Olivier winners Liza Sadovy (about to return to the West End in Oklahoma! at the Wyndhams) and Elliot Levy who was recently in Good opposite David Tennant at the Harold Pinter.

Who knew that the exoticisim of a pineapple could be so gratefully received?

But the swift dissolution of their coupling becomes the show’s heartbreak and Sadovy’s What Would You Do? is really the beating heart of what this show is all about.

Of course, that wasn’t the reason we were initially attracted to this show. It’s the story of a penniless bisexual novelist arriving in 1929 Berlin looking for inspiration, finding a charismatic but self-absorbed singer (Buckley’s Don’t Tell Mama and Mein Herr are just deliciously superb) and losing themselves in the beguiling but nightmareish Kit Kat Club where the EmCee decrees Money Makes The World Go Around.

While ABBA sidetracked Money, Money, Money at ABBA Voyage, its harsh reality is met head on here not only in the eyewatering prices for front row seats and dining here where the immersive experience is such that the show’s venue is actually the show’s venue.

This soundtrack is a glorious reminder of a show that is definitely at least 1 of the best we have ever seen and, we predict, will take Broadway by an absolute storm – and imminently.

  • Main picture by Marc Brenner, all via Facebook courtesy ATG Tickets
  • Have you seen this production of Cabaret and what did you think of this 1?
  • 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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