Cabaret at the Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

9-14 September 2019

Reviewed by Jayne Knight

Opening night at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham was a superbly entertaining event. With John Partridge (Emcee) and Kara Lily Hayworth (Sally Bowles) it was a tough ask to follow in the footsteps of Joel Gray and Liza Minelli in the 1972 film of the same name.

However, from the moment John Partridge appeared in the opening scene, bidding you Willkommen, the audience was drawn into life in Berlin during the early 1930’s, centred around the Kit Kat Club and a lodging house, owned by Frauline Schneider (Anita Harris).

A sensual, sexy, sultry performance, with some nudity, combined with the depth of the performances, made you believe you were actually a part of their lives. From the tawdry, hedonistic scenes of lust at the Kit Kat Club where any lifestyle was acceptable to the gentle nature of Frauline Schneider (Anita Harris), emotion was ever present. 

A chance encounter on New Year’s Eve brings together an American abroad (Cliff Bradshaw/Charles Hagerty), a German born Jew (Ernst Ludwig/Nick Tizzard) and a supporter of the Nazis (Herr Schultz/James Patterson). As their lives intertwine, we see love, deception and the beginning of oppression as the political stance in Germany changes.

Frauline Schneider is shrewd enough to realise that despite her own single status she needs to turn a blind eye to the activities of her lodgers, especially Frauline Kost (Basienka Blake), if she is to make any money from letting her rooms. When her friend Ernst Ludwig proposes marriage there are some beautifully tender moments between Anita Harris and Nick Tizzard, including a gentle dance as befits the age of their characters. The audience are left wondering how this union will fair especially when Herr Schultz plants a seed of doubt, leaving everyone knowing exactly where his affiliations lie.

As Sally Bowles and Cliff Bradshaw’s relationship develops there is a turbulence between reality and the naivety of how life is changing. Kara Lily Hayworth held the stage in an emotionally charged rendition of ‘Maybe this time’. Her final song, ‘Cabaret’, is equally heart wrenching as she makes the decision to stay in Berlin and ‘live for the day’.

In moving between the Kit Kat Club and the lodging house the scenery is simple, yet deceptively technical, with the cast incorporating scenery changes into their choreography. Javier De Frutos is said to be daring and ground-breaking in his art; this was the perfect musical for him to be involved with as it gave him licence to create a raunchiness as befitted the lifestyle of the members of the Kit Kat Club, perfectly executed by the supporting cast.

The power with which this story unfolded is testament to the professionalism and skill of the actors.

It is pleasant to sit and listen to the resident pianist whilst waiting for the doors to open and the bars are open for alcohol or soft drinks. The Theatre Royal Nottingham has easy access by tram routes if you do not wish to drive into the city, with stops outside the theatre or in the Market Place. Ticket prices start at £20. 

Touring the country for the next few months this is a ‘must see’ musical.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £20 to £48.50 (booking fees may apply).

Cabaret is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 9-14 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.

Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND

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