This is quite the experience seeing one of the great Broadway musicals performed in the tiny, boutique venue that is the Hayes Theatre.
CABARET begins with naive young American writer Clifford Bradshaw arriving in jazz-age Berlin, determined to live life to the full. Bradshaw gets much more than he bargained for during his time in the German capital, and he leaves the city as the scourge of Nazism takes hold, a very different and much more worldly man.
From all vantage points Nicholas Christo’s production is impressive. First to the principal cast:
Jason Kos gives a warm, winning performance as the sensitive young writer.
Paul Capsis is mesmerising as the Cabaret’s cutting emcee, forever ‘telegraphing’ the fate that is soon to befall Germany.
Chelsea Gibbs grabs the role of Sally Bowles, one of the great parts in musical theatre, and makes it her own. Her version of the title song is incandescent and deserved the strong audience reaction that it received.
So good to see this production entice three veterans of the Australian theatre back to the stage.
Kate Fitzpatrick plays the tough and money hungry German Fraulein Schneider who runs a salubrious boarding house in which Herr Bradshaw takes lodgings.
John O’May is terrific as her shy, charming long time Jewish beau, the perfect gentlemen, forever buying her gifts.
Markus Graham plays the part of Ernst Ludwig, a local who befriends Bradshaw when he arrive in Berlin and shows him the nightlife of Berlin, and ends up being a very sinister figure.
Debora Krizak is just right as Fraulein Schneider’s wild natured scallywag boarder Fraulein Kost who always a sailor or two in her boudoir.
Christo’s set and staging, and Kelley Abbey’s choreography work well. A crack Kit Kat Club band led by pianist Lindsay Partridge, situated behind luscious satin curtains (and sometimes a scrim), play in a rousing fashion all the way through, with a particular highlight a red hot trumpet player.
James Browne’s production design was very effective. A few small cabaret dining tables were set up at the front of the stage to add to add ambience, with a few lucky patrons getting the best seats in the house.
A constant refrain through the play was the use of Kit Kat club performers, eerily looking on at the seedy action from either side of the stage.
Costumes (unattributed in the program), make-up by Mariel McClorey, wig and hair design by Drew-Elizabeth Johnstone and atmospheric, smokey lighting by Rob Sowinski were outstanding.
Recommended, CABARET is playing the Kit Kat Club, no I mean the Hayes Theatre until March 5. The production is then set to go to Melbourne, at the Athenaeum Theatre, at the beginning of May.