SOPHIE “dour” BAUER gives reserved approval to a technically shaky but charming musical.
Magdalene Cripps Auditorium, 2nd-5th March, 7.30pm, £5-8
Directed by Charlie Risius
Meine Damen und Herren, wilkommen und bienvenue to the manic and macabre world of Cabaret. Attempting what is possibly one of the best musicals ever to grace stage and screen, this was going to be a feat of Ulysses grade proportions for the little old Magdalene Musical Production Society. Cripps Auditorium was simply too small to convey a visual feast of debauchery in the sinister world of 1930s Germany. While Charlie Risius’ ambitious project was utterly charming, lack of polish often pushed it stumblingly into farce.
But this was a solid first-performance. Each number and scene was attacked with so much energy and gusto that you couldn’t help but smile and go along with it. Warbles and blips were always going to be an issue, and no amount of suspenders and negligees would be able to cover the lack of synchronicity and awkward fumbles; no amount of charm disguise that Sheffield-meets-American drawl. But, as I felt myself loosen up and embrace the tongue-in-cheek nature of their Cabaret, I even learnt to enjoy the mishaps and moments craving more rehearsal.
Photographs by Will Seymour
Some of the numbers can stand up proud, such as the wonderful opening of Wilkommen, the signature belter Cabaret and the chilling Tomorrow Belongs to Me – I was relieved that MMPS’ rendition of this was as spine tingling as it should be. The acid test for a job well done in this musical.
There were even some remarkable, stand-out performances. Millie Benson’s Sally Bowles was sharp and boasted a wonderful voice. But she was much more of a smashing Julie Andrews than Sally Bowles: the moments of light-hearted man-hopping and infuriating naiveté were successful, but the rougher, edgier side rarely peeped through. After having to look at Rob Young’s visage creepily peeking out at me from posters pasted on every railing and corner, his Emcee did not disappoint. Never has a dainty frame been put to such good use, he simpered and groped better than any other cabaret showgirl I saw that night, with more lace, suspenders, bottoms and boobs than a man can lay his hands on.
My favourite performance by far came from Nick Morrison – his gentle and vulnerable Herr Schultz was completely endearing, his rendition of Meeskite one of the most enjoyable numbers. His performance managed to encapsulate the essential tragicomedy of the musical.
This was a brave and complex choice, and though performances were solid, some moments even occasionally brilliant, it simply was too shaky in the dance and vocals department. However, I still enjoyed it tremendously. It pulled me out of my so-close-to-week-seven despair, so if that sounds like you, get yourself down to MMPS’ Kit Kat Klub and just give into the mania and macabre.