Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Strictly star Louise Redknapp sizzles with Will Young
Musical Cabaret may have become iconic thanks to Liza Minnelli's scintillating performance in the movie, but decades later and pop star Will Young is making quite a name for himself in the show.
Life is a cabaret old chum in the popular musical
After two successful stints in London's West End, the production of Cabaret directed by Rufus Norris will be at The Lyric Theatre in the Lowry in Salford from November 7 to 11.
I caught the show early on in the tour when they was a buzz around Will Young reprising the role of Emcee that earned him accolades in the West End. This time around he is joined on stage by Louise Redknapp, last seen coming runner-up in last year's Strictly Come Dancing.
I was unsure of how Redknapp would fair in her theatrical debut, especially as the role of carefree nightclub singer Sally Bowles is such a dominant one. My doubts that she would come across as too wholesome and nice were unfounded as Redknapp was aloof enough in her performance to be believable.
Her time on Strictly has helped her keep in with the exact dance routines, but it's her voice that really is her forte. She makes decent work of songs 'Cabaret' and 'Maybe This Time', in particular.
The limelight, however, firmly shines on Will Young. He's perfected the role of Emcee, for which he earned an Olivier Award nomination and also won a WhatsOnStage award.
Cabaret is set in 1930's Berlin where aspiring American writer Clifford is a newcomer in the city and quickly becomes embroiled in the seedy Kit Kat Club cabaret bar and its good time girl Sally Bowles amid the rise of the Nazis.
Act One is jolly and wild with titilating routines at the nightclub by a troupe of seductive dancers led by Young's master of ceremonies Emcee. It's all very enticing and funny with a touch of nudity and bawdiness about it.
There's hope and romance too but mostly from the elderly couple living as neighbours in Clifford's lodgings. Their scenes are probably the most emotional. Susan Penhaligon and Linal Haft are outstanding as mature lovers Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, who must face up to issues surrounding his Jewish heritage.
The close of the first act warns the audience of the gloom to come as Emcee appears as a puppet master with a striking resemblance to Hitler controlling the dancers to menacing song 'Tomorrow Belongs To Me'.
A mature romance is at the heart of Cabaret
Into the second act, it's a much darker tale but with some of the most stunning performances. Young comes into his own even more so and his performance of 'I Don't Care Much' is beautifully sung with remarkable poignancy. It's not hard to see why he won awards.
The movie of Cabaret has set a high standard as it won eight Oscars, but National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris has come close with this atmospheric, slick, memorable version. The dance scenes, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Javier de Frutos are stunning too and the striking finale is a touch of class.
This production has already enjoyed two smash hit West End runs and is now on this brief UK tour. It's an exceptional show all-round but the night ultimately belongs to Will Young. It's sold out fast in other cities on the tour. If you are lucky enough to get a ticket, you're sure to enjoy this refreshing production.