Reviewed by Louise Watts
Rewind half a century to 1966 when the first showing of Bill Kenwright’s musical Cabaret was performed. No one would have believed at that time that it would still be going strong over 50 years later.
Cabaret, based in the 1930s at the seedy “Kit Kat” club in Berlin, the story predominantly revolves around the love between American author Cliff Bradshaw and Cabaret performer Sally Bowles. Their love is not easy or conventional but is captivating and endearing. Alongside this are various other characters and multiple themes, including homosexuality, the rising of the Nazi’s, Anti-Semitism and prostitution. This makes it sound very serious and slightly depressing; however, it is anything but.
Master of Ceremonies at the club, Emcee was played by John Partridge. John has a career history as long as his arm including EastEnders, winner of Celebrity Master Chef, judge on the reality show Over the Rainbow and mountains more. From the minute John appeared on stage tonight as the opening character it was clear we were in for an amazing night. John was astoundingly brilliant all the way through the show and showed off his talent in acting, dancing and singing in abundance. He was captivating and funny but also serious and thought provoking when needed, such as at the end in the final scene. A truly incredible performer, I could not get enough of watching him!
The leading lady playing British Kit Kat performer Sally Bowles was Kara Lily Hayworth. Kara’s career started when she landed the leading role in Annie alongside Paul O’Grady when she was just 11 years old. She has gone from strength to strength since and having seen her tonight it is plain to see why. She was sexy, provocative yet honest and needy all at the same time, her character really drew you in to her seedy world and the need to feel wanted and needed.
The whole cast were tremendously talented. The choreography was incredible, and the dancing was sexy, slick, fast and energetic. The show exuded fun and I can only begin to imagine what fun was had by all during the rehearsals, some of the scenes literally had me laughing out loud, particularly the “two for one” bed scene! There were a few surprises along the way including some nudity. The show comes with a suggested age of 14 years old and above. This is probably fair, although I am not sure my 14-year-old would have appreciated certain bits on display (not like I did anyway!!)
The glory of this show is that somehow it manages to run very funny, lighthearted themes alongside some seriously deep, thought provoking German political scenes involving Nazi’s and Jews. Quite how they have managed to do this, I really do not know but they have and it works. You cannot help but laugh at bits but you also cannot stop yourself feeling the heavy emotions of the final scene and the build up to it.
The set was versatile yet simple. The Kabaret set was full of lights, exactly what you would expect for a seedy Berlin club full of young scantily clad performers. Set changes were managed brilliantly and caused no disruption to the performance. The costumes were minimal, sexy, provocative and the bodies on stage were truly beautiful!
I particularly liked the fact that you could see the orchestra above the stage. They are such an integral part of the performance and its success that I believe they should be seen wherever possible and not hidden away. Their performance was outstanding and a sheer pleasure to listen to.
The show finished with the packed auditorium delivering a well-deserved standing ovation. The performance was the best I have seen in a very long time. The cast and orchestra should all be feeling very proud tonight and I have no doubt they will continue to deliver their seamless, sexy performance over the remaining stay at The Hawth, Crawley.
The theatre itself was as always, a lovely venue. With ample on-site free parking, there is never a worry about finding a parking space. The staff are always friendly and willing to help in any way possible. The theatre is one of the few I have visited where there are simply no bad seats, which is a huge bonus. There are plenty of staff working the bars enabling you to get served with drinks and snacks quickly and effectively. Prices are reasonable too.
I would thoroughly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys a sexy, risqué performance with a few bottoms and more thrown in! All in all, this is an incredible show, with a hugely talented beautiful cast and you should not miss it!
Tickets cost from £37.50 to £45 (booking fees may apply).
Cabaret is at The Hawth in Crawley from 17-21 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit hawth.co.uk or call the box office on 01293 553636.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636