Pint-sized dancer Wayne Sleep has reprised the role of Emcee in Bill Kenwright’s touring production of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical Cabaret.
His interaction with the audience - as the weird and seedy master of ceremonies - kept attention throughout. He also delights with a little tap dance here and little pirouette there.
Dressed in tight leather shorts, suspenders, and tights, with white and black make-up, he was having the time of his life on stage – making it very much his own.
His character works for The Kit Kat Klub, a cabaret club of decadent celebration set against the backdrop of growing terror being spread by the Third Reich.
The sense of fun found in the city is brought through cabaret girl Sally Bowles. Andrew Lloyd Webber prodigy Siobhan Dillon plays the English teenager, showing a flirtatious, innocent and delirious nature within Sally. Her character’s relationship with American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Henry Luxemburg) forms a plot to the story and aspects of two young lovers wanting a different direction are brought out in their performances.
Nonetheless, the acting is not the most entertaining part of the production. Dillon shines as Sally when singing Kander and Ebb’s title song or iconic ‘Mein Herr’, whilst surrounded by her semi-naked cabaret girls and boys, whose choreographed moves by Javier De Frutos are outstanding from number to number.
Through the doomed relationship between German boarding house owner Fraulein Schneider and Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz, Jenny Logan and Matt Zimmerman effectively remind the audience of the political unrest which gripped Germany back then, but fell short on making any particular impact in the singing stakes.
However, Katrina Lindsay’s set accelerates the dark, dingy, and seedy atmosphere of being inside the ‘Kabaret’ and makes intelligent use of ladders, as structures of the club for dancers to climb at one point, before using them as train cabins the next.
The nudity within the production, which audiences are warned about, also is nothing to make grandma shocked. In fact, it’s cleverly utilised to show not only a sexual nature but also an image of one of the most disturbing moments in the 20th century within the final scene.
Overall, the Floral’s first attempt at putting on a large scale musical production makes a good night out.