Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the chaos of war. Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, it has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Cabaret premiered on Broadway on 1966 and in 1972 was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles.
In Norris’ revival, produced by Bill Kenwright, Maxwell Martin is joined by James Dreyfus as the Emcee, Sheila Hancock as Fraulein Schneider and Broadway’s Michael Hayden as Cliff, a part he previously played in 1999 in Sam Mendes’ staging (first seen at the Donmar Warehouse) at New York’s Studio 54. The cast also features Geoffrey Hutchings, Harriet Thorpe and Andrew Maud.
If overnight critics weren’t completely convinced by Norris’ interpretation (either “genius” or “heavy-handed” depending on who you read), none questioned the enduring brilliance of Cabaret itself, which one declared as “one of the defining musicals of the post-war era”. As for Anna Maxwell Martin’s crossover into musicals, many found her to be a suitably sultry Sally, playing the role with aplomb, but others felt she isn’t a strong enough singer and doesn’t fit the bill as a committed hedonist. James Dreyfus’ Emcee also drew both cheers and jeers, while Sheila Hancock won all-round plaudits. Norris’ liberal use of nudity sparked several comments from critics, some of whom deemed it unnecessarily explicit without really being titillating or making a point. However, the majority gave the revival very respectable ratings of three and four stars.
** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to CABARET on Tuesday 17 October 2006
– top-price ticket & post-show cast reception, all for £32.50! – ONLY A FEW TICKETS REMAIN!!
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