Writer: Kander &Ebb
Director: Kirk Jameson
Reviewer: Rob Cottingham
What good is sitting all alone in your room? Quite a bit actually. All that prancing around at the cabaret can get rather wearying. No one could deny that Kander &Ebb have written some of the most popular songs of musical theatre, but do the songs have the same effect when they are performed as a revue? This is how it goes in this production.
There are songs from Cabaret and Chicago, together with many other songs which won’t possibly be familiar to non-devotees of the duo’s work. ‘The World Goes Round’ opens the show. It’s a wry song along the lines of Once life kicks you, the next it kicks you in the shins. It’s very New York in its styling, very Stephen Sondheim. ‘Coffee in a cardboard Cup’ is about how fast live moves these days, with nobody having time to drink from a cup and saucer. ‘Sara Lee’ is a rapture to cakes and a pastries, strangely enough, while ‘Arthur in the Afternoon’ is racier.
Kander and Ebb often wrote their music with particular individuals in mind. Once you’ve watched Liza Minelli sing ‘Maybe This time’ or ‘Money’ from Cabaret its very hard to picture anyone else singing those songs. The success of Cabaret and Chicago came in no small part to the brilliant choreography of Bob Fosse. There are some leg kicks and arm movements which are similar to his style but the venue is too small for the characters to hang from drainpipes or poles.
The set is visually striking, with lots of glass mirrors on the stage like in the nightclubs of 30s Berlin. The main cast are all somewhat long in the tooth, which is strange. The ensemble do a much better job of dancing with expressivity and fluidity. In fact they carry the entire piece and would have done more with the singing if they had been given a chance. A missed opportunity.
Runs until 8th February