Tuesday, 26 May 2009


OK so this isn't strictly Rachel related but there are several reasons i'm reviewing 'Cabaret' here. First and most importantly I saw the show last night in Belfast. Also as we all know Rachel was offered the Sally Bowles role very shortly after IDA ended, eventually deciding to join the WWRY cast instead. And no-one who watched IDA can ever forget THAT rendition of 'Cabaret.'

So almost a year on, having seen WWRY twice, I thought it might be nice to see 'Cabaret' with IDA finalist Samantha Barks in the Sally Bowles role.

I'm not going to do a long boring review -- suffice to say that I hadn't seen the show before and honestly had no idea what to expect.

The cast are excellent -- bags of enthusiasm and faultless performances. Apologies if I can't name the characters, but the Kitkat Club dancers were superb throughout and the elderly couple really impressed -- their doomed romance in a pre-Nazi Berlin was heartbreakingly believable.
For me Wayne Sleep as the Emcee was at times a little OTT -- perhaps a little less stage presence required.

But what of Samantha? And I'm sure she's reading this with bated breath and nibbled fingernails.

Well Samantha first appears a fair bit into the production on a flying ladder. As you do.
'Don't Tell Mama' is delightful and I was completely sold on her portrayal of Sally, particularly in the first act. She has the vampish yet vulnerable persona of Miss Bowles down perfectly.

But (you knew there would be one didn't you?) the wheels start to come off just before the interval. 'Maybe This Time' -- I've seen Rachel perform this live twice -- and just OMG. How do you follow that? Watch my footage of her at the Proms if you need any proof. Samantha is good -- but we're just not in the same ballpark here.

And 'Cabaret' itself -- well there is a bit of history here let's be honest. Rachel / IDA / semi-final anyone?
Sorry Samantha -- absolutely not your fault but nobody can ever top that. And the line 'when I go I'm going like Rachel' should really be compulsory lol.

Come on what did you expect from one of Rachel's biggest fans?

So back to act two. Considerably darker as the Nazi influences and the implosion of Sally's world juxtapose. The depressing ending is somehow fitting yet ultimately unsatisfying in my book. Merely my impression I'm sure I'll be roundly ridiculed.

Overall though I was WELL impressed with the whole production -- superb cast, classic numbers and thought provoking plot.
I wouldn't recommend the show for under 13s -- the nudity isn't particularly explicit (though I suspect it may have been toned down a little for Belfast) but there's a strong adult theme throughout.

Rachel would make this production absolutely her own but despite her absence you'll enjoy this show.


Sarah J said...

Im glad you enjoyed it... i saw it in march in Edinburgh and i really enjoyed it aswell. It would have been lovely to see Rachel in that role but im so glad she chose Rock you instead. I also loved 'Dont tell Mama' and Helga, the really tall lasie in it... i thot she was fab!!! Samanthas a young lassie and i think for her age she is fabb!!!!

Kristin Nicole said...

The ending of Cabaret has always been a point of contention and always will be. People hate the end, but if it was any other ending it wouldn't be Cabaret. I saw it in New York in...jeez...2003? With Melina Kanakaredes and John Leguizamo (aka like the fifth replacement cast for the revival production that originally starred Alan Cumming and the late Natasha Richardson) and I wasn't old enough (only 17, almost 18) to fully appreciate it. I was also a wee bit drunk.

Since then I've grown to absolutely love the show and I find it to be absolutely beautiful. Kander and Ebb did a phenomenal job with it, and it's just so rich and layered. And I love the layered plots, with Sally and Cliff in one part and Fräulein Schneider and Herr Schultz layered just beneath that, and then Kit Kat girls and boys (Frenchie, Fritzie, Lulu, Helga, Rosie, Texas...and then Victor, Bobby, Herman, and Hans) and the Emcee below that is amazing.

And I sound like a nerd.

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