Category Archives: Music

Review Performance at The New Theatre by Lois Arcari


Newtheatre

 

(4 / 5)

 

Director James Williams was placed, alongside the producers at Arts Active Wales, with the admirable but ultimately unenviable task of threading together a week’s worth of workshops, carried out by young people who had never before met, together into a show worthy of the New Theatre.

Despite the insularity that is always a potential threat to any of these types of projects, they always expand outside their form – making it a real shame this performance, perhaps weighed down by the somewhat awkward virtue of its name, wasn’t a tad more well marketed. What the Sherman NT Connections festival did so well with interpreting set theatre pieces this project did for new material.

There were, of course, lots of layers of interweaving. The more complex ideas with the weaker ones, the reasonably large age gap of performers aged 14 – 25, and of course the disciplines of circus, design, dance, art, music and the spoken word. The poetry, overseen by Literature Wales was one of the highlights, although a few themes might’ve meandered, and there were moments where politics seemed a little indelicately transposed onto some performers. Having sat in on the workshop, any chinks in the material were minute distractions against the obvious double edged sword of the time frame, and the integration of every workshopped piece into the whole.

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The ensemble for ‘Performance’ 2016

Community Music Wales where also very active in the show but where better executed and more memorable when used as a backbone for the other artforms. The Art and Design elements were the most sporadically used but well done; a Dali like background to an intense, exhaustive dance piece the most effective example. Impressive puppetry was also used, although the flashy teddy bear, turned Gothic by the lighting, would best be appreciated of those who, unlike this critic, have not been subjected to the ‘wonders’ of FNAF by younger family. No Fit State’s Circus performances showed the two most obvious flavours, a humorous but slight juggling gag to trapeze, but there will be no world in which the mastery of the latter doesn’t inspire some kind of awe.

All the elements worked well together, but Earthfall Dance had a monopoly on the night. Contemporary dance is one of those things all too easy to get wrong, viewed by the general public with cynicism, and even sometimes within the arts with a gentle wryness. In this show, it was stunning, performed by the trained dancers, with natural acting talent alongside passionate energy. It whipped up the most natural commentary and narrative of the night whilst seeming absolutely effortless. As always, simplicity was king and queen alike. Even though others without dance experience were involved, they too seemed totally natural. Whether swift and pulsating or tender and subdued, it was perfectly executed.

Overall, the pieces which were meant to form more of a cohesive story than a thematic connection were too brilliant not to hinder the more standalone pieces which would otherwise be fine if unengaging but it rather accurately depicted the current arts scene, whilst showing plenty of scope for new forms of talent. The difficulty in reviewing this was that any flaws are part of its form and therefore, any commentary can’t seem too constructive, but trying to bring young talent out of its usual spheres and into the general stage is an admirable thing. It was never going to be perfect or show any calculated insight, but it was certainly vibrant and showed plenty of the organic kind. Very much worth keeping an eye out for next year, but keeping it in context is essential for the ride.

Director: James Williams

Producer: Arts active
Assistant producers/collaborators: Literature Wales, No Fit State, Earthfall Dance, Community Music Wales, Criw Celf
Running time: 1 hr 20 mins

 

Review Chicago Wales Millenium Centre by Barbara Michaels

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CHICAGO

Music and lyrics: John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book: Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse

Choreographer:  Ann Reinking

Musical Director: Ben Atkinson

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

(4 / 5)

Red-hot and sizzling, the multi-award winning musical Chicago, based on real life events in 1920s US, is back at the Wales Millennium Centre and judging by the bookings as popular as it was when it came here four years ago.  With its theme of greed and corruption, the contemporary relevance doesn’t need to be spelled out although the main action takes place on Death Row, where nightclub singer Roxie Hart is standing trial for shooting her lover and the feisty Velma Kelly is up for double murder.  Strong stuff indeed but the dark undercurrent of the story and plotline cannot be ignored, and neither should it be.

But – moving on – this is musical theatre, so let us not dwell on this.  The wonderful musical numbers, toe-tapping and fast, are what makes this show so popular, along with the fast-paced choreography. Chicago is above all a showcase for the original choreography of the legendary Bob Fosse.  The tunes come thick and fast, plunging straight into it with All That Jazz in Act I and never letting up, and the dancers amazing…

Chicago has been performed on stage countless times, plus the memorable film version starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and every director understandably wants to put his or her own mark on it in terms of character portrayal.   Hayley Tamaddon is a low key Roxie with an air of fragility about her that belies the fact that this is one tough lady who will stoop as low as it takes to escape the death penalty.  Although Roxie’s story is pivotal, it is her opposite number Velma who is the strongest here and Sophie Carmen-Jones give the role her all in no uncertain manner, displaying a versatility and, in Act II, an acrobatic ability that is truly amazing.  While Carmen-Jones has the character to a T, Tamaddon’s Roxie is at times almost girl-next-door in her naivety.

Alternating in the role of Prison Matron Mama Morton, who believes in looking after ‘her girls’ – as long as her favours are reciprocated – are Gina Murray and Sam Bailey. Murray’s Mama threatened to bring the house down on press night as she belted out the iconic When You’re Good to Mama full throttle.  Great stuff!  A clever little cameo too by Francis Dee as ‘Not  guilty’Hunyak.  On the same evening, Kerry Spark took over the male lead in place of John Patrtridge, who was absent, in playing unscrupulous defence lawer Billy Flynn always on the lookout for number one and lining his pockets by defending about-to-be convicted murderers.  Amos, Neil Ditt is an experienced actor who ‘gets’ the role of Roxie’s husband, the pathetic, incompetent and ignored ‘Mr Cellophane’ (to use the title of his song) off pat.

The staging is atmospheric and costumes a delight for the eye with deftly wielded chorus line feather fans in one of the later scenes, while the  onstage orchestra under musical director Ben Atkinson, is superb, providing not only musical backing throughout but continuing to entertain after the show ends.

Runs until Saturday 30 July 2016

 

Last Night of the Welsh Proms 2016, ST DAVIDS HALL BY JAMES BRIGGS

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Following a simply wonderful week packed full with all types of music, the Welsh Proms 2016 drew to a stunning close on Saturday evening. The Last Night of the Welsh Proms, at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, is a celebration of what it means to be Welsh and how important music is for Welsh people. The celebrations began before the audience entered the auditorium, with a band playing outside the hall enticing passer-by’s into the concert hall.

As the show began the audience welcomed The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London and the resident Last Night Of The Welsh Proms conductor Owain Arwel Hughes CBE. With a marvellous programme of songs set for the evening the audience knew there would be a great evening in store.

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As well as the upbeat recognisable pieces played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra the Last Night is also about some serious music, and this year’ concert featured three world premiere performances of brand new orchestral pieces.

The first of these was ‘Cambrian Serenade’, by Arwel Hughes, the father of our conductor for the evening. The piece featured heavily on Classical FM where they held a competition for the listeners to name the song and the winner would get to see the music performed on The Last Night Of The Welsh Proms. The second of the world premiere pieces was ‘Aberfan’, by Christopher Wood, the emotional piece which was very moving was written to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic landslide of a colliery coal tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, which engulfed a Primary school and killed 116 children and 28 adults.

The third piece making its World Premiere was ‘Mr Dahl’, by Bernard kane Jnr, which was a beautiful piece written to commemorate 100 years from the birth of the great Welsh writer Roald Dahl.

Some of the first half highlights included Coates ‘Dambusters March’, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ and Mendelssohn’s well known and loved ‘Wedding March’. The real showstopper that ended the first half was the soundtrack to Star Wars which took your breath away. Nothing can really prepare you for when you hear the opening few bars of the theme played by the brass section. It is almost like you are expecting Darth Vader or Yoda to appear on stage and greet the audience.

As with the tradition of the Last Night Of The Welsh Proms, it was really after the interval that the fun really began with an influx of flag and banners being brought into the auditorium in preparation for waving along with the music.

The second half opened with a personal favourite of mine Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No.1 and it wasn’t long until conductor Owain Arwel Hughes soon had everyone on their feet and singing ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ enthusiastically to the music. Strauss Radetsky March proved popular with the prom goers as we all clapped along when told by the conductor.

The final songs of the evening came in the form of ‘Fantasy On Welsh Songs’ arranged by Gareth Wood. This part of the concert involved a great deal of singing with the orchestra as some of Wales’ most famous songs were played. With songs such as Cwm Rhondda, Men Of Harlech, Ar Hyd Y Nos, We’ll Keep A Welcome, Myfanwy, and I Bob Un Sydd Ffyddlon there was plenty of choice. One song played Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn had a great deal of meaning for my Mum who I attended the concert with as it was the song she performed for the Queen when she visited Wales in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee celebrations.

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The national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau provided a fitting encore to end a wonderful evening of music. Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes promised the proms would return bigger and better next year, which is definitely something to look forward to. I urge everyone if you have the chance to attend the Last Night Of The Welsh Proms be sure to go because you are sure to have a magical evening of music and culture.

Review, Peter Pan, Everyman Theatre Festival

Image by Natalie Johnson-Rolley

It seems that this year is the year of open air theatre. In the heart of Sophia Gardens we await to be transported by the boy that never grew up across the skies of Cardiff to Neverland.

With a cast of young performers ranging from very small to older groups, this large cast has the great task of a 1 hour production of the Disney rendition of this great story.

Our main characters are as happy and go lucky as we expect them to be – their singing voices very accomplished for such young actors. They are confident and in keeping with their characters. The role of the Dad and of Hook is played by an adult male- a very tasteful decision in showing the patriarchal hold of women at the time with his demands of Wendy becoming a lady and to also show the difference between children’s freedom and adult restriction. The highlight of men vs women running throughout the play and especially with the song entertaining lyrics of brave men, soon to be changed by Tiger Lily and Wendy to Brave girls is a lovely boost and message for growing girls and young women.

The ensemble all evidently worked very hard for their parts – doubling up for different characters and adjusting well to show the difference from Pirates to Indians to Lost Boys and Fairies with ease and skill.

There is an element of pantomime with the production- the costumes are bright and stereotypical but this is Disney and relatable to the children of the audience -some very young.  The use of a clever prop flying high in a snake like fashion over the stage for the crocodile was inventive and really enjoyable to witness.

It did feel as though the smoke machine operator was a little over enthusiastic- at times the stage was disguised and us audience too with an abundance of smoke that it was hard to see the performers and how hard they were working.

Overall this is a lovely and humble family show. A condensed version of the Disney film, it’s entertaining for all families of all ages.

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Review, Flossy and Boo’s Curious Cabaret, Chapter Arts Centre, by Hannah Goslin

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(4 / 5)

Bright pink and green wigs, ukuleles and a whole heap of fun. Coming to Chapter Arts Centre to see these two curious sisters in creativey was excitingly anticipated by me. I have heard so many wonderful things but never had the chance to grab a chance to see them.

Flossy and Boo as would seem by any images you see of them are eccentric, comedic and warm and friendly. Being welcomed one by one by each of them to the performance, it felt more of a personal gathering than of watching a performance piece.

Flossy and Boo had planned items but also random segments chosen by the audience in the form of picking items from a hat. This was full of anticipation to see the reaction of the performers and what material they brought into the mix.  To be able to chop and change and bring a new show each time is a triumph and very clear of some talented theatre practitioners.

Their ability to change the scenario at last minute, combat sound issues and prop interruption was done seamlessly, with us enjoying how ‘natural’ they were with us. We were never quite sure if they were being their characters or their usual persona- which of course is brilliant to be able to achieve.

Flossy and Boo’s Curious Cabaret is side splittingly hilarious, extremely intelligent and masterful in its execution. Heading to Edinburgh, I urge you to see them. They’re ones not to miss!

Review The Freddie Mercury Project, Sinfonia Cymru, RWCMD by Sarah & Lucy Debnam

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All photographic credits Sarah Debnam

Dancing-dasies.co.uk

This was very exciting for me!

I thought the show was going to be fun and exciting, I am a massive Freddie Mercury fan.
The place we went to was quite big and it had comfortable seats.
I recognised a few songs- ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘We Are The Champions,’  ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Who wants to Live Forever.’
I thought they all played great, I enjoyed it a lot!
There was nothing I didn’t like 🙂

Lucy  Debnam aged 8 

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Hillsanddaffodils.co.uk

It has to be said the Freddie Mercury is a true legend, I grew up singing Queen songs rather than nursery rhymes and I know I am not alone, and now, without any real encouragement, my eldest daughter has become a huge fan also. So when we saw the Freddie Mercury Project advertised both of us were really excited to go and see what it was all about.

We were kindly asked to review The Freddie Mercury Project from Sinfonia Cymru (a young, talented and innovative orchestra in Wales) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and didn’t know what to expect from either the orchestra or the venue, but as soon as the musicians entered the room I realised this was to be something special, and I wasn’t disappointed.

From the very first notes the room filled with atmosphere and emotion, I was instantly impressed by the skill and the attention to detail that the orchestra had, the togetherness and how attentive they all were. There was an element of fun as well and some of the girls were rather enthusiastic on that section of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that has everyone head banging along, did I mention that Sinfonia Cymru is described as ‘progressive’? I guess they have to be to take on Mr Mercury’s incredible songs, from ‘Bicycle Race,’ including bicycle bells, to ‘Love of my Life’ which gave me chills, down to ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ which was by far my favourite piece played, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t work in my opinion.

I was a little concerned about the fact that nobody would be singing at this show, it was purely music and I wondered how Freddie Mercury’s showmanship could ever be replicated. Well that was left to Vlad Maistorovici, who as composer, conductor and violin soloist had his work cut out for him, however I think he did an outstanding job, of not only pulling the whole orchestra together, in time, with enthusiasm, but he also played many of the solo parts of the songs that Freddie would have belted out, with his violin alone. I honestly don’t know how else to explain it other than he did it justice and I think Freddie would have been impressed!

This team of musicians also included the very talented pianist Robin Green and Harry Cameron-Penny on the clarinet who was mesmerising to watch, both incredible musicians and both adding something unique to the whole ensemble. The piano sections of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ were spot on and my girl chatted excitedly about this at the end, she couldn’t believe how it sounded exactly as it does on the recordings, he even played the piano in an unusual way at one point. Harry gave an air of confidence that made me feel as though he didn’t have to put any effort into his solo performances, making it comfortable and entertaining to watch, it was almost as if he just made it up as he went and still sounded flawless, a real talent.

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I won’t pretend to know if the notes were all spot on as I am not musical myself, but I do know that as someone who wasn’t sure what to expect from an orchestra playing Freddie Mercury’s songs, I was absolutely blown away by every single part of the show, Vlad was incredible and brought Freddie’s spirit to life momentarily for me, Robin and Harry were a pleasure to watch/listen to, and we enjoyed it so much that I bought tickets for the next night at The Riverfront theatre. This time taking my Dad (who is a big Queen fan) and my youngest daughter, and they both loved the show as well! I think this is a true testament to the Sinfonia Cymru as all ages were clearly entertained.

I think we witnessed something special in the Freddie Mercury Project, and think that the effort and skill poured into this production did not fail to impress. The standing ovation at both shows we went to echoed this as well I think.

Thank you Sinfonia Cymru!

Review Guys and Dolls, New Theatre Cardiff by Barbara Michaels

 

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(4 / 5)

Still popular well over half a century since it opened on Broadway, everything rests on the roll of the dice in Guys and Dolls, the iconic musical set in Manhattan and based on the short stories of Damon Runyon. Gangsters and their molls are at the centre of the action as con man Nathan Detroit struggles to find a venue for his upcoming illegal crap game. High-rolling gambler Sky Masterson offers a solution, but only if Nathan can come up with an attractive enough bet. And he does – in the shape of uptight Evangelist missionary Sarah Brown. The subsequent shenanigans take us from Times Square via the dance clubs of Manhattan to the sewers of New York City.

This latest revival, fresh from the West End stage, proves once again what a great musical this is. This time round it has the plus of being staged with choreography masterminded by the brilliant Carlos Acosta. It is difficult – I might go further and say well-nigh impossible – to find a dancer and choreographer who can equal Acosta for Latin American rhythms that sizzle with white-hot heat. As the action switches to Havana there is just about everything here – rumba, samba, cha-cha – you name it. Ballet – of course. Full marks to the multi-faceted ensemble for coping with it all.

So bristling with talent is this Chichester Festival Theatre production that it is difficult to know where to start with the accolades, but one must begin somewhere so let us be logical and begin with the two male leads whose crap games and on-off romances form the pivot on which the plot revolves. As Sky Masterson, Richard Fleeshman cuts a debonair figure in the role of the gambler willing to take on any bet if the stakes are high enough.  Fleeshman has a great tenor voice, heard to advantage in the number I’ve Never Been in Love Before at the closure of Act I. The target of his bet, with whom he ends up falling in love, is the Bible-bashing Evangelist Sarah Brown, played by Anna O’Byrne who belts out the lyrics with gusto.

That accomplished actor Maxwell Caulfield plays Detroit with a great sense of timing and a wry humour. His evident relish for the role is infectious. Caulfield’s Detroit is a likeable rogue, despite his dragging his feet where marriage is concerned: a fourteen year engagement seems a trifle overlong by any standard! The lucky lady is Miss Adelaide, lead singer and dancer at the Hot Box, the night spot where much of the action takes place. Louise Dearman, as Detroit’s fiancée whose dreams of domestic bliss are taking forever to come true , is superb, notably so in that wonderful number Take Back Your Mink. Dearman has the role down to a T – to the extent of almost stealing the show at times.

Detroit’s and Masterson’s fellow gamblers are all perfectly cast, with Jack Edwards as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and the lugubrious Craig Pinder as Harry the Horse, while Mark Sangster is a nimble-footed Benny. Boys – you were splendid. The live orchestra, under the direction of Andy Massey, provides the accompaniment to the memorable musical numbers which include that well-known Luck Be a Lady and the foot-tapping Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.

http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/what’s-on/guys-dolls/

Runs until Saturday 9th July

Guys and Dolls New Theatre Cardiff

Music and Lyrics: Frank Loesser

Book: Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows

Director: Gordon Greenberg

Choreography: Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

 

REVIEW CABARET ((RICHARD BURTON COMPANY) RWCMD BY JAMES BRIGGS

(4 / 5)

Audio review of the production with music from the production

‘Cabaret’ is highly regarded as being one of the greatest musicals of all time and has some magnificent songs and fascinating characters, it also has a strong compelling and highly political storyline with a message from history that can’t be ignored. Set in Berlin on the eve of World War Two in the 1930’s, it shows the rise of the Nazis against the apathy of the masses, and describes a change that would prove to have terrifying consequences for everyone who lives in Berlin. Most of the story unfolds in the seedy ‘Kit Kat club’.

I was not sure of what to expect when attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for this production as I had only heard some of the songs from the musical and was unfamiliar with the storyline, so I must admit when the house lights dimmed and the characters began to enter the stage to the song ‘Willkommen’ I was slightly perplexed at the characters in front of me and their stage presence especially only being 17.

For many, including my mother who I attended the show with, imprinted on their mind was the film version of the musical starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Joel Grey as the compère and Michael York as the young Englishman.
The stage show opens with the arrival of a young American, Cliff Bradshaw (played by Jonathan Radford) in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1930. In a chance meeting at the railway station, he’s becomes friends with the very polite and helpful Ernst Ludvig (played by Tom Corbishley) who refers Cliff to Fraulein Schneider’s lodging house while he is staying in Berlin. Later in the story, Cliff is introduced to the ‘Kit Kat Club’, a cabaret club where anything can happen. He meets Sally Bowles, a singer who escapes reality when performing her songs in the club.

Set against Cliff and Sally’s relationship, and the relationship between Fraulein Schneider and her Jewish fiancée, the Nazis start to show their might and their threat is felt by all at both the unassuming lodging house and the Kit Kat Club. Adena Cahill as the upper class English Sally Bowles is very good. Fraulein Schneider was played by the believable Rosie Archer whose characterisation was excellent as well as that of Dafydd Gape who played the kind, caring and helpful Herr Schultz. Jennifer Ruth-Adams who played Fraulein Kost was able to do this very well and produced some comical scenes when trying to get her sailor lovers out of the lodging house without Fraulein Schneider finding out.

However, for me the star of the show was Corey Jones as Emcee, whose performance was outstanding and whose stage presence was simply mesmerising and as soon as he entered the stage you could not take your eyes off him. Jones’ Emcee was extremely dark and edgy with an exceptionally strong character and you were never quite sure if he was simply a welcoming host, or one that really despises all people.

Corey Jones as Emcee

Photographic credit Kirsten Mcternan

The level of the singing in the production was brilliant and there was not one character that slipped out of their German or American accents. It felt as though I was in Berlin watching the show. The performance of ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ by Ross Hoey as a young Nazi was very chilling and this was made more powerful when the Nazi flags dropped down on each side of the stage. With well-known songs such as ‘Maybe This Time’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Mein Herr’ it is sometimes difficult to live up to audience expectations but the cast of this production surpassed themselves. The band that played during the performance was equally exceptional and brought the music to life.

The ‘Richard Burton Theatre’ housing the performance was very fitting and gave the audience a feeling of intimacy with the characters on stage. You felt you were part of the audience in the ‘Kit Kat Club’ taking part in all the action.

The staging worked equally very well with the theatre and as one entered the theatre we were greeted by a large structure hanging diagonally on stage with simply some chairs below it. There was also a large use of period lights on chains that along with the structure moved during the performance. This was used extremely well as it gave the effect that the ‘Kit Kat Club’ was opening up in front of the audience. The minimal set worked extremely well and allowed the audience to concentrate more on the characters opposed to the surrounding.

The Entr’acte from the Musical ‘Cabaret’.

Overall, this is an utterly breath-taking performance even if it is rather risqué in parts with a chilling end but I will certainly be attending far more shows at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama because if the level of performance is always this high, you are guaranteed an amazing night at the theatre.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover

Review Cabaret (Richard Burton Company) RWCMD by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

I go into the theatre weighed down by the recent slating on social media: in response to a comment in favour of collaborative working, I was compared to those who did nothing as Hitler rose to power. Troubling from all sides.

I hadn’t seen Cabaret for a very long time, if ever, and couldn’t say that I knew the story. Apposite as it turns out. We all know the songs but few of us know the context.

Partly it’s the space, partly it’s the artistic direction, but this is in your face from the start. And everything is in your face – teeth and tits and hips and all the grotesque of the carnival, smiling, enticing and taking you in. I watch the audience press back in their seats, personal space invaded and we are thrilled.

The story begins and like the train, rattles along happily. Two love stories unfold through song and speech – the older grocer and the landlady, the young American writer and the English show girl – against the light and dark and desperate of mid war Berlin.

The completely brilliant and mesmeric Master of Ceremonies holds each of us in his stare, winking and steely, welcoming and chilling. Better than Wayne Sleep, says my neighbour, he was evil too but ooh, this one makes me shudder. We all want him to notice us, take us into his lascivious dangerous, oh so colourful world.

Sally is sumptuous. Her voice purrs lines of love and confusion and roars and rises as the cabaret of her life is told. As it all unravels around her and the snippets of intrigue evolve into the political cabaret of Nazi Germany, we want her to leave, go to Paris with her man – but she hates Paris.

We witness the sadly comic and beautifully performed love affair of the Fraulein and the Frau over fruit and schnapps come together and fall apart and he leaves, his Jewish faith unwelcome now.

It ends. Our MC rides out with our battered journalist on his train home. He strips. His pink triangle stitched to his shirt. He folds into stage black.

I wish they sold CDs, says the lady in front of me. Oh, so do I. How much would I have relished hearing it all again on the way home. Brilliant, says another. Shocking, says someone else, hadn’t expected it to be so, well, sexual, not sure some of it was necessary. Wonderful, says a young man, reeling slightly.

I am reeling too. How do you know when it is time to act and when it is time to wait and see what happens? Cabaret.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover

REVIEW ‘CABARET’ (RICHARD BURTON COMPANY) RWCMD GEMMA TREHARNE-FOOSE

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(4 / 5) Very Good!

Whatever is in the water in the Royal Welsh College of music and drama, I want some of it for myself. Despite being a fan of many years of the soundtrack for the musical and Liza Minnelli’s legendary portrayal of Bowles in the film version – I hadn’t until tonight seen the full stage version of the production.

The musical tells the story of the seemingly wild and carefree days of Berlin in the 1930s and the outrageous goings on at the Kit Kat club, a place where the harshities of the rise of right wing ideology and the slow tentacles of anti-Semitism and Nazism will eventually bring the party to an end. Until then, as the fabulously quirky emcee reminds us: ‘Outside your life is disappointing….in here, life is beautiful!’

For those who are unfamiliar with the usual style of the musical, the usual depictions are famous for some of iconic choreographer Bob Fosse’s trademarks – bowler hats, canes. gloves, black clothes, wooden chairs, a smoky vintage jazz club, waistcoats, stockings and sleek buns. This production has turned the classic Cabaret on its head. It gives us 50 shades of sass. It has been dry humped by Beyonce and licked by Miley Cyrus. If as I did, you should see this show with your Mam, she may disapprove of the sexy stuff – far too many open legs and bending over perhaps. This may of course encourage you to like it even more. Corey Jones’ uninhibited performance may make your Nan or you Mam blush, but he and the cast execute Tom Jackson Greave’s choreography beautifully. I loved the freshening and brightening up of Jessica Campbell Plover’s costume design: flashes of pink bra or turquoise stockings and some strategically placed PVC bondage tape, a sweep of Adam-ant style eye make-up brought some a more modern and edgy look to the cast. The look and feel in the Richard Burton theatre was fresh and industrial – pendant lights lowering and raising up to complement the mood and pace of the songs, a cage wall which will remind you of the musical and film ‘Chicago’ and a stripped down feel rather than focussing solely on the style of the 1920s/30s.

Although the role of Sally Bowles can be a difficult one to pull off once you have seen Liza Minnelli mic drop it in the 1972 film version, Adena Cahill’s vocals are incredible and her performance of the song ‘ Maybe this time’ was blinding. Special mention also to Rosie Archer as Freulein Schneider and Dafydd Gape as Herr Schultz for their sweet portrayal of a blossoming relationship than never has an opportunity to come to fruition. The story of the play is as relevant in 2016 as it was when the play was first performed in the 60s, during a time of great civil unrest in the US. Politics and all the ugliness that comes with it is absolutely about us all, whether we realise it or not. At one point, Nazi sympathiser Ernst Luvig (played by Tom Corbishley) tells exasperated American Clifford Bradshaw (played by Jonathan Radford): “Enough politics…what does it matter anyway?”. Sally poo-poos Clifford and encourages him run an errand for the Nazis, as it’s ‘nothing to do with them anyway’. The friends and associates we think we know…we actually don’t. But life is a Cabaret and the show goes on, eventually. As Fraulein Schneider tells Cliff about all the hardships she previously encountered: ‘I survived’. It’s a message worth remembering this last week, especially.

I doff my bowler hat and wave my jazz hands excitedly in the direction of the Royal Welsh College. The show was a little bit saucy and a little bit rude…and I for one found it bloody ‘wunderbar’.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbey
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover