Michel Kacenelenbogen’s production tells the story – popularised in 1972 by the Bob Fosse film with Liza Minnelli –set in Berlin in the 1930’s. ‘Fresh off the boat, the young American, Cliff Bradshaw, discovers the Kit Kat Klub, a sulphurous nightclub featuring the sensual Sally Bowles. At her side, the extravagant Emcee and his group of boys and girls mock and spoof the upper crust. Together, they rule showy, provocative Vaudeville. Anything goes at the Kit Kat Klub if you’re looking to make the most of the Berlin’s crazy nightlife! But even this sheltered little haven of freedom can’t escape the murmurings of the outside world.’
This show is a real treat, and one not to be missed if you are in or around Brussels late-November/early-December. As a born-and-bred Londoner as someone who has been to many plays and musicals on London’s West-End, this production by ‘Le Public Theatre’ is one that the English Musical Capital would be proud to call their own.
The cast, comprised of 16 actors, produced a strong performance all-round and were as talented when it came to dancing as they were with the singing and acting. Yet there were a few artists that provided stand-out performances and commanded the stage every time they stepped on to it. The first of which was Steve Beirnaert (Emcee), who didn’t just make an immediate impression because of his elaborate make-up, fancy show costume, and top-hat, but also through the prowess of his voice, the command in his stride and a singing-voice that both demands and urges you to sit up and take note. He is an actor who has a real gift for delivering spoken lines of songs (as could be heard in songs such as the opener “Wilkommen, Bienvenue” as well as “Money, Money, Money”) in such a way that he leaves you always wanting more.
The second of the stand-out performances was put in by Taila Onraedt who plays Sally. Despite having more experience as an actress than a singer, Onraedt really holds her own alongside the quality voices of that of Beirnaert and Delphine Gardin (Fraulein Schneider), who herself has a somewhat Piafesque singing voice on stage in this role. Whilst Guy Pion’s years of experience shone through in the role of Herr Schultz as he provided an extra depth and element of pathos.
Whether you speak French, Dutch or English, this is the play for you as it’s subtitled throughout (most songs included) in all three languages. The production values of this show are definitely something that is worthy of paying homage to 20 years of the theatre ‘Le Public’. For the majority of the show, the stage is laid out simplistically yet stylishly with ‘Cabaret’ in a sleek looking font up in lights above the stage. This is then set on a back-drop of a chain curtain (that changes colour depending on the mood of the scene) that was cleverly utilized as a prop in the finale of the show. The orchestra is visible in the dim light behind the chain curtain, and were superbly directed by Pascal Charpentier particularly when given the chance to showcase their talent before the beginning of the Second Act as they played various instrumentals from Cabaret whilst the cast all stood on the staircases leading up to the orchestra area.
It is no wonder that this musical has been extended following its initial three week showing at the Theatre National this September, but if you weren’t lucky enough to have seen it the first time around, then make sure you get your tickets before they’re gone!
Michel Kacenelenbogen’s production of Cabaret will be back at the Theatre National from November 27 to December 7 inclusive before going on tour to: Arlon, Liege, Huy, Namur, Neuchatel and Freiburg, before finishing with a week of shows in Louvain-la-Neuve at the beginning of March 2015.
For more information and tickets please click here.