We where lucky enough to be invited along to Belfast premier of Bill Kenwright's touring show of Cabaret last night at The Grand Opera House. This production has been pleasing audiences across the U.K and Ireland from earlier in the year, we have been eagerly waiting to see it for ourselves having heard such wonderful things from those who witnessed this extravaganza in other locations.
Most people will be familiar with the 1966 musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, based on John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera, which was adapted from the short novel Goodbye to Berlin (1939) by Christopher Isherwood.
Set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, it focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around American writer Cliff Bradshaw and his relationship with English cabaret performer Sally Bowles.
We start off by seeing this world on stage through the ‘camera with its shutter open” the staging was intricate, cleverly done although minimalist it felt intimate rather than empty.
The detailed original choreography by the award winning Javier De Frutos must be mentioned, it was mesmerising and genuinely avant garde.
John Partridge’s as Emcee is nothing short of mind blowing, showing so many layers to the character, clearly psychotic and weirdly fun, the audience didn’t know how they should be reacting, which I am sure is exactly as he intended.
Known and loved for his time playing Christian Clarke in Eastenders, though it is with ease I say that stage is where he belongs and shines, with a career spanning over 30 years many will have seen him in West End productions such the original run of Cats, Grease and Starlight Express. More recently he starred in a new version of La Cage aux Folles, Billy in Chicago and Buddy in The View Upstairs which ran a few weeks ago in the Soho Theatre.
Partridge is on fire, simply the best Emcee we have ever seen or heard, we couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. Look out for John’s debut book “There’s No Place Like Home” which will be out in 2020.
Kara Lily Hayworth excels as a Sally Bowles, a politically naive social opportunist who exploits all she comes across to gain notoriety in the Kit Kat Klub.
Hayworth’s voice was divine and her portrayal of Sally made her come across down to earth and oddly relatable. I loved her relationship with Charles Hagerty as Cliff Bradshaw and her rendition of Maybe This Time and the title song Cabaret has the audience in the palm of her hands.
Anita Harris ( Fraulein Schneider) with James Patterson (Herr Schultz) as an romantic older couple was a perfect pairing. Their songs, It Couldn’t Please Me More and Married where really enjoyable.
This brilliant touring production of Cabaret totally revitalises what could just be another production. If you have seen Cabaret in the past or it is completely new to you I cannot recommend enough, you will be blown away.
There are certainly moments of sombre though these are equally matched with LOL moments, the bed scene with a giraffe among many other surprising things was the highlight for me.
Running in the GOH until Saturday 12th October, get your tickets now by clicking here