Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Cabaret, May 1, 2017 ***
Book by Joe Masteroff based on the
play by John Van Druten & original stories by Christopher Isherwood
by John Kander & lyrics by Fred Ebb; Original concept & direction by Harold
Prince; produced by David M. Hawkins; Atheneaum
Theatre, until June 3, 2017 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 1, 2017 Stars:***
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts in print & online on May 3, 2017. KH
Chelsea Gibb & Cast_pic John McRae
The Berlin Kit Kat Klub, with its dissolute cabaret, comes vividly to
life in the faded 19th century glory of Melbourne’s slightly musty Atheneaum
Theatre for this revival of the provocative musical, Cabaret.
Edwards’ production of Kander and Ebb’s sassy and saucy musical, with its audaciously sexualised choreography by Kelley Abbey, focuses on Berlin’s seedy entertainment
underworld and the debauchery that was rife during the Weimar Period before
World War Two.
essence of this shabby, salacious and corrupt world is captured splendidly in the imaginatively decadent design (set and costume, James Browne) and evocative lighting (Rob Sowinski).
There is much to recommend this production, starting
with the talented
Chelsea Gibb as Sally Bowles, the slightly toffy English gal who scratches a
living as a second-rate cabaret singer with a sideline in seedy prostitution at
the Kit Kat Klub.
rendition of the title song, Cabaret, is poignant and internalised at the
beginning then escalates into heart-rending despair that brought the crowd to
its feet on opening night.
However, the production had to overcome technical difficulties that made Gibb
inaudible at the start of her big number, Cabaret, because of unbearable crackling
in the sound system. Edwards stopped the show and sent Gibb off to get her
microphone fixed – well, sort of fixed.
Paul Capsis (centre) & cast_pic John McRae
popular Paul Capsis plays the Emcee (Master of Ceremonies) as a camp and
cynical voyeur who prowls the stage observing the sleazy, scandalous or despairing characters, commenting to the audience and
making us complicit in his mocking observations.
Kander and Ebb’s music is the star of Cabaret, and the
big crowd-pleasers are Capsis singing Wilkommen and The Money Song, Gibb’s
Don’t Tell Mama and Jason Kos’s The Telephone Dance, all performed with the
chorus of boys and girls.
Musical director, Lindsay Partridge, leads a tight
and exuberant on-stage band that plays the award-winning music with pizazz.
Kos plays the American innocent abroad, Clifford
Bradshaw, Sally’s friend and bisexual lover, and his singing has warmth in
Don’t Go, although there is limited scope for development in this character.
A highlight is the
poignant relationship between frumpy land lady, Fraülein Schneider, played by
the sultry and funny Kate Fitzpatrick, and Herr Schultz, her Jewish fiancé,
played with warmth and naiveté by John O’May.
Krizak is a riot as the shameless hooker,
Fraülein Kost, and Michael Cormick gives an assured performance as the unscrupulous Nazi, Ernst Ludwig.
the production lacks the requisite sense of impending doom, apart from during the
unnerving chorus of Tomorrow Belongs To Me at the end of Act One.
components of the show – songs, dance, scenes and commentary by Emcee – all work
independently, but somehow do not quite form a cohesive whole.
this production needs to settle and overcome its teething problems, the memorable
music, eccentric performances and the cynical political commentary will still