REVIEW: Cabaret, Manchester Opera House

There are certain roles in the land of musicals that are so iconic it is hard to imagine any one else playing that particular character; Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Maria Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music and Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

So admittedly, when I went to see the latest touring production of Cabaret in Manchester, I was dubious as to whether How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?-finalist, Siobhan Dillon , could fill the shoes of Liza Minnelli in the 1966 classic.

Bill Kenwright production of  CABERET directed by Rufus Norris

Sadly, though Siobhan certainly has both the acting talent and the vocals to make a dent in theatre land, her reluctance to throw herself into the role of the underground club singer does her a great disservice, particularly during her renditions of ‘Mein Herr‘ and ‘Maybe This Time‘ which failed to be as rowdy and as heart wrenching as they had the potential to be.

The real star of the show, and perhaps the main reason pre-sales for the tour have been so successful is Pop Idol winner, Will Young.

Over ten years have passed since the original Idol beat Gareth Gates in the final and, time has been kind.

Our first glimpse of Young is one lederhosen-clad thigh, dangling from on high as he welcomes us to the Cabaret as Emcee, and his charmingly-creepy persona leads us through the show with aplomb. His stand out moment just before the interval, as a marionette-wielding, Hitler-esque, character, taking ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ to a whole different level.

Those of a demure disposition may want to shield their eyes for the majority of the show, but this writer revelled in the sheer debauchery of the dancers; particularly the spectacular choreography and various body sizes which made a refreshing change from the body beautiful of ‘Chicago‘ fame.

Will Young as Emcee and the Company in Cabaret 2 Photographer Keith Pattison 2012 PRODUCTION

But interspersed with said debauchery were genuine tender moments from Lyn Paul as Fräulein Schneider and  Linal Haft in the role as Herr Schultz, and though their romance was short-lived, was played out tenderly and with humour, notedly during ‘It Couldn’t Please Me More (The Pineapple Song).

However it is the undercurrent of the show that truly tests the cast’s acting props, as Berlin slowly gives way to the Nazi regime, friendships and romances are tested and, as the final scene plays out, the true atrocity of the time hits home. The scene in the theatre perhaps outdoing the film with its bare (literally) realism.

The tour continues around the country until early December. For dates and tickets visit here