Rosie Solomon enters the world of the Kit Kat club, where GMTG have succeeded once again to produce a spectacular show
Walking into the Deb Hall last night was like walking into a different place entirely. This was partly due to the wave of heat which hit my face as I stepped through the doors but also because the room had been transformed into The Kit Kat Klub, with the front half of the audience seated on circular tables rather than the usual rows and the Kit Kat Girls lounging around the stage and walking through the crowd. The girls, dressed in stunning matching lingerie sets and looking at the audience with disdainful, heavily made-up eyes really set the tone for the show – sexy, cheeky and more than a little bit sordid.
Jimmy Van Hear’s entrance as the Emcee is the perfect way to start any show, and with the room set as it was, it really felt like the audience were part of the action onstage, encouraged to laugh and gasp as we were drawn into the world of The Kit Kat Klub. Van Hear’s performance was impressive, and he only grew with confidence as the show continued, taking to numbers such as ‘Two Ladies’ with both physical and vocal agility and, along with Katy Adams and Sam Wilson, ensuring that this number was a real stand out moment of the show.
Aside from the framing of the narrative in the sleazy night club, Cabaret is a very character driven show, with Sally Bowles and Cliff Bradshaw as the romantic leads in a story which eventually unfolds to have little to do with their relationship at all. However, Beth Gilbert took to the role of the formidable Sally Bowles with such charm and confidence that it was impossible to take eyes off her during her entrance and opening number, ‘Don’t Tell Mama’. Her performance of the titular song ‘Cabaret’ was woefully honest, and she really brought depth to the character consistently throughout. She, opposite Daniel Scott as Bradshaw, made a refreshingly new pair of GMTG leads – and what perfect casting it was. Daniel Scott stole the show on more than one occasion. His skills as an actor stood him head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, and his vocal performance during ‘Why Should I Wake Up?’ was by far the strongest of the whole show. His characterisation as Bradshaw was perfect, inducing pity and sorrow from the audience as we followed his trajectory throughout his time in Berlin, winning and then losing Sally Bowles.
Aside from some pacing issues during scene changes and during scenes, the play was directed marvellously by Alice Williams, and James Jackson did an incredible job with the band, who played to near-perfection on all the numbers, despite some inconvenient technical difficulties.
The change in tone in particular was orchestrated with a firm hand by Williams and Jackson, and this is something which really stood out as the show drew to a close. There was tentative applause at both the interval and the end of the show, as the pieces fall into place for unsuspecting audience members who haven’t quite put two and two together about Germany in the 1920s and 30s. The ending came as a real shock, even for me (and Cabaret is one of my favourite musicals), and I left with Sally’s line ringing in my ears – “it’s only politics. What’s that got to do with us?” – something which seems rather apt for the tumultuous times we find ourselves in yet again.