So I am going to flat out say it… Cabaret has always been a show that has never really appealed to me. I don’t know why but seeing the posters of it on the London underground when it was in the UK it never jumped out at me as a must see show…
Now in NYC, as a treat for letting me stay at his place for so long I gave my friend Sean the option to pick any show that he wanted to see and I would treat him to it. Cabaret was his top choice… and I am so glad it was.
Knowing very little about the show I had no idea what to expect and turns out this has to be one of the saddest musicals in existence! From the few clips I had seen of Liza singing songs from the show, I thought it was just your general run of the mill musical… but no! Giving me burlesque, war, music, abortion, drugs and dancing this show has you going through so many emotions all at the same time.
For those of you out there who have also not seen it or know anything about it – Cabaret is set in 1930’s Berlin. Based on the book ‘Cabaret’ by Christopher Isherwood, we find ourselves in the seedy ‘Kit Kat club’. Here we meet a young English performer, our female lead – Sally Bowles. Struggling with drugs and alcohol she meets an American writer who has a fair few secrets of his own and together they take us on a journey …
I get told I look like Alan Cumming all the time so it was nice to see my slightly more famous counter part at work. Cumming as the MC is magnificent. My twin delivered great vocals, hilarious dialogue and some sexy moves. He is the musical narrator helping to take the audience through the story and while providing many laughs he manages to spark up a lot of questions through his mysterious character.
Michelle Williams proves to be a good but very different Sally Bowles then I was expecting. Not the most vocally strong performer but a great actress none the less. Really portraying/showing how drugs, sex and alcohol can affect you and also how fame’/popularity is not all it is cracked up to be. With some of the songs more spoken then purely sung she delivers a great performance, although I would also love to see Emma Stone in this role. ( She happened to be taking over the roll a few days after I left NYC ).
Bill Heck playing the American ‘love’ interest who is clearly struggling with homosexuality goes through a rocky relationship with Sally Bowles. Providing great vocals and acting he really helped show how homosexuality was repressed back then and the conflict people had with standing up to the Nazi regime.
The venue itself was great, being in the original studio 54 location the set oozed sex. It was seedy with a burlesque/vaudeville vibe. The way it was set up really helped bring the audience into the show and along with such elements as the cast entering through the audience or Alan’s cabaret audience participation section there was so much to see and experience.
Such a strong cast of singers, dancer and musicians. I can imagine that it would be hard to constantly recast if it was to stay on Broadway.
I was also surprised to see that Sam Mendes Directed the production. I only knew of Sam Mendes and his work within the film industry but it was great to see him lend his hand to the theatre world.
Next time I won’t be so hasty to judge a show by its poster…