REVIEW: David M. Hawkins presents ‘Cabaret’ (Melbourne season).

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The beautiful cast of ‘Cabaret’. Image: supplied.

Iconic Musical Heats Up The Athenaeum. 

I was invited to attend a preview production of the production of Cabaret currently playing in Melbourne. As a longtime fan of the musical, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Cabaret is set in Berlin in 1929 and tells the story of a young American writer named Clifford Bradshaw (Jason Kos) who finds himself in the debaucherous night spot The Kit Kat Club. Bradshaw quickly becomes bewitched by one of the club’s headlining performers, the vivacious Sally Bowles (Chelsea Gibb). The pair end-up living together in a flat they rent from a conservative but caring landlord, Fräulein Schneider (Kate Fitzpatrick).

While Cabaret might sound like the typical boy-meets-girl story, it is anything but. The Nazi regime is beginning to take hold and the characters do not know if they are safe or who to trust. Particularly distressed is Fräulein Schneider’s love interest, fruit shop owner Herr Schultz, who happens to be Jewish.

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The story of Sally Bowles (Chelsea Gibb) and Clifford Brashaw (Jason Kos) is not a typical love story. Image: supplied. 

In Cabaret, the action constantly shifts between bittersweet realism in the dramatic scenes and bright musical numbers that are performed within The Kit Klub Club. These songs are so much more than catchy showtunes though, they are commentary about the characters’ lives and the political climate of the time. Leading these dynamic numbers is the Emcee (Paul Capsis) who also acts as a narrator for the show.

With a book by Joe Masteroff and a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cabaret is so cleverly written that, if performed right, you will fall a little bit in love with every character. And as for the ‘villains’, you will love to hate them. Every performer in this production had me smitten.

From the moment Paul Capsis greeted the audience with the iconic song ‘Willkommen’, I knew the show was going to be great. Capsis brings bucketloads of charisma and energy to the role making him the perfect Emcee. He is one of those rare talents who can give one hundred percent to challenging songs and choreography while making it look effortless at the same time. If you are debating seeing Cabaret, I urge you to not let the opportunity to see Capsis in this role pass you by.

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Paul Capsis is an unforgettable Emcee. Image: supplied. 

Chelsea Gibb brings a unique level of vivacity to the role of Sally Bowles. Gibb’s performance of the title song is an absolute showstopper filled with raw emotion. Her chemistry with love interest Clifford Bradshaw (Jason Kos) is electric.

Kos brings an appropriate sense of innocence to the role of Clifford and successfully portrays the character’s transformation into a more jaded, weary man.

The supporting cast work well together and create an eccentric, unconventional family. Kelley Abbey’s intricate choreography is performed with style and ease. Ensemble vocals are flawless and powerful.

The Athenaeum theatre is a small space but the inventive scenic design is nothing short of genius. A raised platform acts as both The Kit Club’s stage and Fräulein Schneider’s apartments. Two doors on either side of the platform allow for actors’ entrances and exits as well as clever storage spaces for props and costumes. A few small tables and chairs surround the platform for cast members to act as an audience at the club. Between songs, the Emcee often sits at a table, watching the characters’ lives unravel.

Without giving too much away, this production of Cabaret is unique, innovative and expertly performed.

So what are you waiting for? Book now and come to the cabaret!

Cabaret is running until the 20th of May at the The Athenaeum theatre in Melbourne. Tickets are available through Ticketek

*I was invited to attend a preview performance of ‘Cabaret’ and tickets were supplied. This has not influenced my views in any way.  Please read my PR & Disclosure Policy for more information.

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