Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cabaret @ The Birmingham Rep, Wednesday 2nd September 2009

‘Wilkommen’ read the huge piece of set at the front of the stage in lightbulbs. ‘Is that the name of the person who wrote it…Will Kommen?’ I overheard someone say. To be fair the way it was laid out, with the ‘Wil’ bit first, then the ‘kom’ in the middle and the ‘men’ bit at the bottom might confuse you…but even so…

Anyway, tonight was a bargain. Sniffing around the tourist bit of Birmingham Library (the old one…which is perfectly acceptable in my book…why spend millions of pounds on a new one…oh…backhanders from developers you say…oh right…now I get it) I came across a small business card sized flyer offering 2 for 1 tickets for cabaret on the first two nights of the show. The seats were surprisingly decent too. Row J, at the side. £8.75 a pop. Like I say, a real bargain for a cracking night of Nazi themed musical sauce. I’m a bit of a fan of musicals these days. Blame my camp ‘tache if you will but when it’s done right it’s a glorious night out and tonight was done very well indeed. The set was simple but effective. The nudity was tasteful (shame…I do love a bit of nudity) and the orchestra (you sometimes forget that there are real life people down there in t’pit) and cast achieved the perfect blend of sleaze, decadence and menace that’s at this musical’s heart. Given that this was the eve of the 70th anniversary of the declaration of World War II tonight’s performance had an added poignancy. The sudden sight of a young man dressed in a Nazi uniform (replete with swastika) singing ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ was as repellent as it was obviously meant to be. The stars of the show, a gloriously camp emcee in the shape of Wayne Sleep and runner up Maria (from that ‘How Do You Make Another Million for Lloyd Webber’ programme) Siobhan Dillon were spot on. Siobhan’s voice and acting in particular were first rate, neatly avoiding the musical clichés that so many actors and actresses fall into (over emphasising words, giving it jazz hands all the bloody time, acting rather than living the part…). Can’t believe Wayne Sleep’s 61. He did a nice bit where they (in an obvious way) replaced him with a younger dancer wearing a pig head, making you think that he was too old to jig about. Camping it up like mad he quipped ‘Bet you think I’m too old to do that now dahhhlinks’ before executing a rather fine bit of furious tap. Bless ‘im.Unsurprisingly this production (well, last year’s version of it…which I imagine was pretty much the same) has won rave reviews and, even if you end up paying full price for the tickets, it’s money, money, money, money, money well spent.

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