For many people who work in the theater, the customer experience begins long before the curtain rises. This is especially true for this production of Cabaret, which is not marketed as being at the Playhouse Theater, but at the ‘Kit Kat Club’, which has always been the name of the Berlin nightclub featured in this Kander and Ebb musical. Patrons attending the show are directed to a bar before heading to the auditorium itself. Nothing unusual about this – there is a lobby bar in many theaters. But it’s not on every show that the actors are in character as the audience walks in, interacting with us and each other, giving as close an idea as possible to what it would have been like to walk into one. Berlin cabaret during the interwar years.
The theater has been rearranged, so that the performance takes place in the center. The stalls and the party hall are in two sections, so the actors find themselves spinning, either through the rotation of the stage or on their own or both, so that no one watches the film for too long. someone’s back. Actors enter and exit through different aisles – the same aisles used by the audience – further adding to the interactive feel of the production.
Set in 1929-30, when the Nazi Party was in full swing, the show has a chilling conclusion rather than a happy ending. It is directed by the host of the cabaret (Eddie Redmayne) taking the baton of a conductor. He is, along with the rest of the cabaret performers, dressed in a military uniform, and unlike the previous scenes where there was fluid happiness and a festive atmosphere, everything has become cold and unwelcoming.
Redmayne is notable as a central figure, engaged in the flamboyant role, embodying him with considerable flair and physique. More than in some other previous productions, the focus has been on Sally Bowles (Jessie Buckley), the headliner of the Kit Kat Club. In the song’s musical number, she becomes so emotionally upset that audiences are effectively denied the traditional performance of a big show. The high is nonetheless powerful in its poignant nature and proves that passionate intensity doesn’t have to be represented by pure vocal power – there is depth and nuance to this display of vulnerability.
Fraulein Schneider (Liza Sadovy), who runs a boarding house, ends up falling in love with Herr Schultz (Elliot Levey), who runs a fruit store. Their numbers together, ‘I Couldn’t Like It More (A Pineapple)’ and ‘Married’, are performed with love, warmth and affinity that is unmatched by anyone else on the show, even Sally Bowles and Clifford Bradshaw. (Omari Douglas), the latter being an American writer who left the United States in search of a more liberal place. He thus brings a point of view on German politics which contrasts with Schultz and Bowles, who are not inclined to think that their way of life is in imminent danger.
It is somewhat of a damning indictment for today’s society that Cabaret is so relevant, and not just because “money makes the world go round», Exploring issues relating to inclusiveness, political extremism, anti-Semitism and the LGBT + community. This production is probably more subtle than most versions of Cabaret, but it’s all the more powerful because it hasn’t turned up the volume to deliver such a thrilling experience. This new take on such a famous show is a thoughtful and welcome revival. Julia Cheng’s choreography is a far cry from the style of Bob Fosse in the 1972 film, but it works. And as the emcee says, “even the orchestra is beautiful”.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Welcome to the Kit Kat Club. Welcome to an intimate and electrifying new CABARET production starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley. Come listen to the music play.
In a time when the world is forever changing, there is a place where everyone can be free. It’s Berlin. Relax. Relax. Be yourself.
With Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Tony and Olivier Award winner Eddie Redmayne as “The Emcee” and Bafta and British Independent Film Award winner Jessie Buckley as “Sally Bowles”, the Kit Kat Club opens its doors from November 2021.
One of the most successful musicals of all time, CABARET features the songs Wilkommen, Don’t Tell Mama, Mein Herr, Maybe This Time, Money and the title number. It has music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, a book by Joe Masteroff, based on the play by John Van Druten, and stories by Christopher Isherwood.
Before the show, guests are invited to enjoy the club with drinks, meals and entertainment before the show. Upon booking, guests will be given a ‘club entry time’ and, for the richest experience and to fully immerse themselves in the club, we encourage people to arrive early.
Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse
Reservation in progress until Sat May 14, 2022