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shirleyvalentine

Willkommen to the Cabaret

By Ciara Quinn

YOU cannot take your eyes off either actor or scenery – from Berlin border control to the hedonistic Kit Kat Club – in Bill Kenwright’s important and timely production of Cabaret.
Idealistic writer Cliff Bradshaw (Charles Hagerty) disembarks from a train, boxed typewriter under his arm, keen to find inspiration and new adventures as Berlin enters 1931 and the clock ticks towards catastrophe.
Cliff is welcomed to Fraulein Schneider’s (Anita Harris) boarding house where he takes a room as his adventure begins. Fishnet stockings, leather, dancing and gin are the order of the day, night – anytime really at the Kit Kat Club – with the omnipresent Emcee (John Partridge) overseeing proceedings as our gender-bending narrator.
It’s here that Cliff encounters the magnetic, fragile Sally Bowles (Kara Lily Hayworth) who after a storming rendition of Mein Herr, packs a bag, grabs her fur coat and moves in, uninvited, to Cliff’s new digs.
A tale of love and romance in later life is played out beautifully by Fraulein Schneider and James Paterson’s Jewish fruit seller Herr Schultz, as the rise of the Nazi party slowly begins to cast its shadow over the Kit Kat Club and its denizens. Emcee’s ‘pulling’ of the puppet strings as part of the chilling Tomorrow Belongs To Me powerfully sets the audience up for what is to come in the second half.
We watch as our story takes a darker turn: broken shop fronts, Stars of David, Nazi armbands. Cliff and Sally drift apart as he’s keen to return to America but Sally stays behind as the train leaves Berlin, with Herr Schultz aboard as well.
All of the principal cast and dancers have brought their A-game to this production. Kara Lily Hayworth is a commanding Sally whose heartbreaking Maybe This Time has the audience rooting for a girl who urges us to ‘put down the knitting and the book’ as life is a Cabaret even though her life is spiraling, fast, out of control. John Partridge’s Emcee is mesmerising. From his opening Willkommen through a giant illuminated ‘O’ in the stage to Money and I Don’t Care Much, his performance runs the gamut from bravado to despair as the fate of the characters is outlined to us.
The final scene before curtain fell on Tuesday night was one of the most unforgettable I have ever seen on stage and will linger with any theatregoer lucky enough to see this before Saturday.
Five stars.

Cabaret runs at the Grand Opera House until Saturday, October 12. For ticket information visit www.goh.co.uk or telephone 02890 241919.

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