For a while I reserved a special place for Les Miserablès as the best dramatic retelling of a historical period by a musical, but that has all changed since I saw the Sam Mendes directed Cabaret in Studio 54 on 54th Street. All I knew of this show before I saw it was that it was a show about World War II and contained the songs “Cabaret” and “Maybe this time”, but this production really expands beyond the restrictions of recordings and provides you with a rich experience that you will never forget.
This show just gets so many things right and has so much depth, from the moment you walk into the theatre you’re transported into the dimly lit Kit-Kat club with table service a musicians slowly making their way to the stage. The attention to detail is amazing; they don’t even take the chance of you thinking you’re on Broadway and save handing out the Playbills until the end of the show. It’s the atmosphere of this world that has been created that really affects you by the end as it all inevitably comes crashing down.
At the heart of the show are the performers, the amount of talent on stage left me in awe, and every performer is a quadruple threat! They sing, they dance, they, act and they play an instrument as a part of the orchestra. The real standout is Alan Cummings (Emcee) , his characterisation is flawless and presence is always felt. He is the glue of the show and every moment he comes on stage is a treat. Michelle Williams (Sally Bowles) provides a powerhouse performance with both “Maybe This Time” and “Cabaret” hitting all the unfortunately right notes that had me in tears by the end.
Legendary Rob Marshall’s co-direction and choreography builds on the seedy imperfect world of the Kit Kat club and tells as much of a story as dialogue. The overall artistic design of the show is just fantastic.
This performance just captures the rise of the Nazi party in a way that is rarely explored. The fact that the Nazis targeted people who thought they were safe. Danny Burstein (Herr Schultz) saying “I’ll be fine, I’m a German” is so chilling because you what his fate will be. The exploration of these themes with the parallel meta-cabaret numbers just make this production essential for anyone who enjoys musical theatre.