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The Grand, Leeds/Touring
REALITY TV shows and musicals have become the routes of choice for ex-pop starlets wanting to relaunch their careers and Rufus Norris’s latest revival of Cabaret features two - Pop Idol runner-up Will Young and former Eternal member Louise Redknapp - with widely varying results.
Young, reprising his Olivier award-nominated role as Emcee of the permissive and seedy cabaret Kit Kat Klub in 1931 Berlin, brings just the right amount of leery flamboyance to the role and manages to navigate the passage through decadence and brutal undercurrents as the nazis grow in power.
Surrounded by a cast of dancers in suspenders and revealing leather lederhosen, who whirl around a moving staircase to Javier de Frutos’s risque choreography, his pan-stick charisma is sharply contrasted with Redknapp, who appears miscast as the assertive and flirtatious Sally Bowles.
The star of the Klub until she’s sacked, she moves in with US writer Clifford Bradshaw (Charles Hagerty) and they begin an ill-fated relationship.
Wholesome even when she’s meant to be sultry and fascinating, her singing diction is clear but she lacks the powerful conviction of a vulnerable free spirit.
It’s a weakness that’s plugged by the other cast members and Katrina Lindsay’s simple but effective set, with the live band above the stage.
The action largely switches between the Klub and the boarding house of Fraulein Schneider (Susan Penhaligon), where the sub-plot of her doomed romance with a Jewish fruit vendor unfolds. The lighting becomes especially effective as the tone turns increasingly dark and the Klub can no longer offer a refuge from political reality.
Watering down some of the satire evident in the 1972 film, this Cabaret nonetheless captures its despairing political acquiescence.
And it seals Young’s transition into an actor of note.
Tours until December 9, details: kenwright.com
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