Reviewed – 17th April 2018
“a classy production; always sharp and never flat”
Since the original Broadway production of “Chicago” each subsequent revival has stayed true to its initial concept and style, making it a strongly identifiable product. This current West End outing is no exception – you certainly know what you’re going to get. Some detractors argue that this leads to stagnation but, on the contrary, like a well-crafted movie-classic, Kander and Ebb’s defining musical always lends itself to repeat viewing.
With the help of Gary Chryst (re-creation of original choreography), Ann Reinking’s dance moves evoke the spirit of Bob Fosse in this tale of murderous femme fatales in prohibition Chicago. I have to confess that until now I was unaware that the show is based on the real life story of two high profile homicide cases in the 1920s. Originally penned by journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins it highlights the fact that, just as the kiss-and-tell tactics of today’s tabloids turn transgressors into celebrities, so the reporters of the Jazz Age could also transform criminals into stars.
The main draw here, though, is undoubtedly Cuba Gooding Jr as the unscrupulously shady defence lawyer Billy Flynn. He certainly has his fans in the audience and he can do no wrong by them. He does grab the role with both hands and lays claim to the stage with charisma and cheeky swagger; delivering his numbers with a husky voice more Raggle Taggle than Razzle Dazzle. One does wonder if he is up to the gruelling demands of a West End schedule, but for now he deserves the applause.
Sarah Soetaert, as Roxie Hart, is sensational. Amazingly she shows us an endearing side to her screwball, sociopath character and we smile at her outrageous stabs at stardom instead of willing her to hang. And when coupled with Josefina Gabrielle’s Velma Kelly, it is we who hang on their every note. However, the show does take a while to warm up. The first act simmers nicely enough and it is only after the interval that it reaches boiling point. It is like another performance, and from the stirring entr’acte onwards the orchestra threatens to steal the show. And that’s the thing. The music is the real star of the production. The score demands that the musicians (with musical director Ian Townsend at the helm – clearly having a ball) occupy the greater part of the stage.
This is a classy production; always sharp and never flat – bubbling with some of the best show tunes from the Kander and Ebb song book, Fosse’s inimitable signature, spiky satire, sex and, of course, all that jazz.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography by Tristram Kenton
Phoenix Theatre until October 6th
Also starring Josefina Gabrielle
WILL YOUNG & LOUISE REDKNAPP
LEAD THE CAST IN
RUFUS NORRIS’ ACCLAIMED PRODUCTION OF KANDER AND EBB’S MUSICAL MASTERPIECE
Internationally renowned singer/songwriter, Will Young, reprises his Olivier Award-nominated performance as the enigmatic Emcee alongside musician and presenter Louise Redknapp, who makes her stage debut as Sally Bowles in Rufus Norris’ multi-award winning production of CABARET.
Cabaret will embark on a UK tour this autumn, opening at the New Wimbledon Theatre on Thursday 21st September 2017 and playing theatres in Blackpool, Cardiff, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Salford, Edinburgh, Bromley and Brighton.
Ever since winning the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2001, WILL YOUNG has been one of the UK’s most popular and successful music artists. He holds the record for the fastest selling debut single in British chart history, and has enjoyed a phenomenal career in music with four No1 albums, as well as acting alongside Dame Judi Dench in the film Mrs Henderson Presents. Will made his West End debut in Cabaret and will be reprising his award winning performance.
LOUISE REDKNAPP rose to fame as a member of the girl group Eternal. She left the band to carve out a successful solo career achieving an impressive twelve Top 20 singles, including the hits Naked and Stuck in the Middle and selling over 5 million records with 5 albums. Since then she has rarely left our television screens and most recently wowed the nation with her dancing skills finishing ‘runner up’ in the 2016 series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Will Young as Emcee and the Company in the 2012 production of Cabaret Photography by Keith Pattison
CABARET features show-stopping choreography, dazzling costumes and some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre including ‘Money Makes The World Go Round’, ‘Two Ladies’ ‘Maybe This Time’ and of course ‘Cabaret’. The production turns Weimar Berlin of 1931 into a sassy, sizzling haven of decadence, and at its dark heart is the legendary and notorious Emcee, who performs nightly at the infamous Kit Kat Klub.
Since its Broadway premiere in 1966 and the famous movie version with Liza Minnelli and Oscar winner Joel Grey, CABARET has won a staggering number of stage and screen awards including 8 Oscar’s, 7 BAFTA’s and 13 Tony’s. Norris’ production has enjoyed two smash hit West End runs and has picked up 2 Olivier Awards.
Rufus Norris is Director of the National Theatre and a multi-award winning theatre and opera director. For the National Theatre, he has directed The Threepenny Opera, wonder.land, Everyman, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, The Amen Corner, Table, London Road (Critics Circle Award), Death and the King’s Horseman, Market Boy. Other theatre includes Vernon God Little (Young Vic), Les Liasons Dangerouses (Broadway – five Tony Award nominations), Festen (West End and Broadway) The Country Girl (Apollo) and Afore Night Came at the Young Vic (Evening Standard Award). Film credits include London Road and Broken.
Choreography is by the Olivier Award-winning Javier De Frutos. In 1990, he formed The Javier De Frutos Dance Company. His work includes The Hypochondriac Bird and Affliction of Loneliness. Recently he joined forces with Sadler’s Wells and The Pet Shop Boys to create a brand new dance work based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Most Incredible Thing.
Cabaret will play at the New Theatre Wimbledon, Blackpool Opera House, Cardiff New Theatre, Leeds Grand Theatre, Milton Keynes Theatre, The Lowry in Salford, Edinburgh Playhouse, Churchill Theatre Bromley and Brighton Theatre Royal.
CABARET – TOUR DATES 2017
Thursday 21 – 30 September
Box Office: 0844 871 7646
New Wimbledon Theatre
Tuesday 3 – 7 October
Box Office: 0844 856 1111
Blackpool Opera House
Tuesday 17 – 21 October
Box Office: 029 2087 8889
Cardiff New Theatre
Tuesday 24 – 28 October
Box Office: 0844 848 2700
Leeds Grand Theatre
Tuesday 31 October – 4 November
Box Office: 0844 871 7652
Milton Keynes Theatre
Tuesday 7 – 11 November
Box Office: 0843 208 6000
Salford, The Lowry
Tuesday 14 – 18 November
Box Office: 0844 871 3014
Tuesday 21 – 25 November
Box Office: 020 3285 6000
Churchill Theatre Bromley
Tuesday 5 – 9 December
Box Office: 0844 871 7650
Brighton Theatre Royal
Further dates to be confirmed