Sunday, 18 November 2012

Out and about: Life is a Cabaret Old Chum

A few weeks ago I saw Cabaret at The Savoy Theatre.

I'd been thinking about booking tickets since I saw the announcement about its return to the west end as it's one of my favourite musicals, but it went clean out of my mind until I got a email about half price tickets. I bagged a few for my mum, my aunt and myself and then remembered that an old school friend worked on the show. I messaged him to say we were coming over to see it, and we arranged to catch up by the stage door.

I mentioned in my email that the Fosse choreography for Mein Herr in the film is one of my all time favourite musical numbers and that I was excited to see it in person, but he told me that actually it was different choreo in the show, and to bear that in mind. I was a bit upset, but he told me I wouldn't be disappointed.
I wasn't disappointed, it was a good number, a really good number, but in my head I don't think anyone but Liza (with a Zee) could play that part now, so it's probably a good thing that they didn't use that famous chair dance. But, like I said, I was glad I knew in advance so I wasn't upset about its omission. Manage expectations and all that!
On the whole I loved the show, I loved the atmosphere and the way they captured the sinister societal shifts in 1930s Berlin with the staging and the choreography, I loved Michelle Ryan's voice,  I loved the comedy elements and the casting choices for the other main characters but most of all I loved Will Young.
Will Young literally took my breath away, gave me goose bumps and made me shiver.
My view on the story itself, whether on the stage or on screen, is that it's incredibly smart, deep and affecting. If you don't know the topic and subject matter, you could be forgiven for thinking it's an upbeat, high-kicking, Razzle Dazzle-style musical - like Grease! Unfortunately its big, show-stopping numbers are actually full of melancholy lyrics about a terrible, sickening time in history. That's why, in my mind, it's such a clever show. Here is a cast with tambourines and sequins and dancing and singing about money money money, money money money, money money money... Whoo, yeah, join in, sing along, clap your hands, but if you look closely and listen properly you see the dreadful undertones and meaning. Where you can use subtle suggestion on film, I feel it's harder on stage, and the cast did a great job of conveying this changing "mood" throughout. But Will Young, in my opinion, outshone everyone. He does an amazing job of taking the tone from fun, to fear with his breathtaking portrayal of Emcee.
That is why, although the cast perform their little hearts out for two hours and twenty minutes, I couldn't jump up and cheer for them when they came forward to take their bow. I gave them some heartfelt, dignified, appreciative applause. They deserved and I meant every single clap, but the poignant and startling ending makes it difficult to stand up and whoop and cheer as the cast take their bows.

This is the only time I've seen Cabaret on the stage, in comparison to having seen the film about twenty times, but I really enjoyed it and would go again and I'd highly recommend seeing it if you can. I'd also recommend a pre-show margarita in the American Bar at The Savoy. Take it Straight Up and with salt. You won't be disappointed.

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